Long delays at Nairobi: are we being fair?

Refugees in Africa routinely wait years for Canadian immigration officials to process their applications to come to Canada.

While they wait, refugees are struggling to survive in desperate and dangerous situations, even though they have sponsors in Canada ready to support them here.

Refugees from Africa pamphlet

The long delays also affect families of refugees. Children are waiting years to be reunited with their parents in Canada.  A five year wait for a child is a lifetime!

Sadly Canada’s processing of refugees is too slow in many parts of the world, but it is slowest of all in Africa.

We need to do better.  We need to be fair to all refugees.

Nairobi: severely overburdened

Processing is particularly slow at the Nairobi office.

Canada’s visa office in Nairobi (Kenya) covers 18 countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi and Rwanda – countries from which large numbers of refugees come.

The Nairobi office is by far the slowest in the world for privately sponsored refugees.

Half the cases of privately sponsored refugees in Nairobi take more than 3 YEARS (38 months, compared to 19 months globally).

Reuniting refugee families

Nairobi is the slowest visa office for applications for family reunification from refugees accepted in Canada.

Half the cases of refugee dependants processed by Nairobi take more than 23 months (compared to 12 months globally).

This means that children in some parts of Africa routinely wait more than two years to be reunited with their parents, after their parents have already been accepted as refugees in Canada.

Impacts of Long Delays

The extremely long processing times have multiple and profound impacts on the children, women and men applying, as well as on others involved.

  • Refugees are not protected
  • Children are kept separated from their parents for years
  • Sponsors lose motivation

 

Working towards a solution?

The Canadian government has recently acknowledged that the Nairobi visa office needs more staff to handle the many, many cases it is responsible for.

We do not know whether the extra staff will be enough to significantly reduce the serious delays in Nairobi.

Since 2009 there was a marginal improvement for privately sponsored refugees, but delays for refugee families have gone UP.

There are also longer than average delays at most other offices in Africa too.

We need fair treatment for African refugees and their families.

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