14 October 2004

Montreal.  The Canadian Council for Refugees today released a report, NO FASTER WAY?, highlighting the problem of long overseas processing delays in the private sponsorship of refugees.

The report shows that half of the refugees sponsored by a Canadian group wait more than a year and a half to be resettled to Canada, with waits of two to three years routine.  “The excruciatingly long delays are wasting the lives of refugees overseas and the energy and enthusiasm of volunteer sponsors in Canada,” said Janet Dench, Executive Director.

Among the findings of the report are that long processing delays:

•    Are increasing (one in five cases now takes more than 28 months to process, up from 20 months in 2002).
•    Are putting refugees at risk, because they are often waiting in situations of extreme insecurity, violence and poverty.
•    Are deterring Canadians from getting involved in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

“People talk a lot about how long the refugee process in Canada takes, but we should worry more about the slow Canadian process overseas, because of the vulnerable situation the refugees are in,” said Debra Simpson, a representative of Mennonite Central Committee.  “We think of Canada as a humanitarian country, yet we are regularly asking sponsored refugees to wait two or three years to come to Canada – even refugees in a war zone, even refugee children who are not getting enough to eat.”

The publication of the report follows years of efforts by the Canadian Council for Refugees and private sponsors to seek solutions to the problem of delays.  “If we are really interested in protecting refugees, we need to find a faster way to bring refugees out of danger,” said Elaine Harder, an elected representative of Sponsorship Agreement Holders.

The full report is available at http//


Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
Debra Simpson, Mennonite Central Committee, (905) 646-3161