25 June 2015
The Honourable Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.
365 Laurier Street West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1L1
The Honourable Steven Blaney
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8
The Canadian Council for Refugees is deeply concerned about the security and human rights situation in Burundi. We urge you to suspend removals to Burundi in light of the situation of generalized risk, and to direct that priority be given to expedited family reunification processing for persons in Burundi, including for family members of refugees in Canada.
As you are no doubt aware, the last few months have been marked by escalating violence in Burundi, in the lead up to elections. Political violence has left many dead, wounded or jailed. According to the UN, nearly 100,000 Burundians have fled the country since early April. UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff recently raised the alarm bell about the human rights situation in Burundi, highlighting the use of violence by youth militia.
A 7-year-old daughter of a refugee in Canada has already been sexually assaulted by a member of the youth militia, while waiting in Burundi to be reunited with her mother in Canada. This highlights the urgency of expediting processing for Burundian family members of refugees and others.
According to the latest available statistics from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, processing times for dependants of refugees in the region are 34 months. I am sure you will agree that such long delays for reuniting children with their parents are completely unacceptable, no matter the circumstances. The insecurity in Burundi makes expediting processing all the more important.