Call for immigration measures to respond to the Syrian crisis

Canadian Council for Refugees

Media Release
For immediate release
11 September 2013

Call for immigration measures to respond to the Syrian crisis

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and the Syrian Canadian Council today called on the Canadian Government to introduce immigration measures to respond to the conflict in Syria. Two million Syrians have been forced to flee as refugees and many others are internally displaced.
“The countries neighbouring Syria are responding generously but the scale of displacement is overwhelming: Canada can do more to provide solutions to some of the displaced, especially those with connections to Canada and the most vulnerable”, said Loly Rico, CCR President.
The organizations are asking Canada to:

  • Introduce flexible provisions to allow family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and accepted refugees to come to Canada, at least on a temporary basis.
  • Address the many barriers to private sponsorship of Syrian refugees, including the long processing delays and the ban on sponsoring refugees out of Turkey.
  • Provide more Government Assisted Refugee spaces when the UNHCR calls for them.
  • Formally declare a moratorium on removals to Syria.
  • Introduce special immigration measures for Syrians currently in Canada, to allow them to extend their stay, similar to provisions for Haitians after the earthquake (including access to a work permit, to Interim Federal Health coverage and to schooling for children).
  • Allow people who meet all the conditions of a temporary visa (e.g. students, parents or grandparents on supervisas) to come to Canada (i.e. not be refused simply because the crisis in Syria makes officials question their willingness to return to Syria).

“Canada’s current programs don’t work for displaced Syrians or for Syrian Canadians trying to bring affected family members,” said Khaled Sawaf, President of the Syrian Canadian Council.  “We hope that our Government will finally bring in special measures for Syrians, to respond to the catastrophic refugee crisis, as Canada responded in the past to other crises such as the Rwandan genocide or the Haitian earthquake.”

Colleen French, Communication Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, 514-476-3971 (cell),
Faisal Alazem, spokesperson, Syrian Canadian Council, 438-994-6293,