For Immediate release

20 July 2005



Montreal. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) today released a report, Lives on Hold, exposing the situation of people trapped in limbo in Canada: unable to return to their country because of insecurity, they are also unable to acquire permanent residence in Canada.  The CCR calls on the Canadian Government to resolve the problem by granting permanent residence to people from moratoria countries. 

Over 4,000 people are potentially affected.  The nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe represent the communities most affected, with the greatest concentration in Montreal, although many are also found elsewhere in Canada.

“Nobody should be asked to put their life on hold,” said Janet Dench, CCR Executive Director.  “Humanity and self-interest dictate that we should give status sooner rather than later to people who are not going to be removed.  We have made this point to the government, but so far we have been told that the issue is not high priority.”

In recognition of the situation of generalized insecurity, Canada has imposed a moratorium on removals to Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.  While nationals of these countries are not removed, they are not necessarily able to achieve permanent status, even if they have been in Canada for years.

Living in limbo causes many serious hardships because people cannot reunite with family members, even spouses and children, have limited job prospects, cannot pursue their education, can access only to emergency health care coverage, cannot travel outside Canada, and struggle with profound feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.

    “I have no future and no plans. The two options are either going home and being killed, or staying here and being away from my children.” Zimbabwean quoted in the report.

The CCR is working with the affected communities to urge the government to solve the problem and collaborated with the Zimbabwean Community in Montreal on this report.

The report “Lives on Hold: Nationals of Moratoria Countries Living in Limbo” can be found on the CCR web site at


Contacts:   Nick Summers, President, (709) 682-9329
                 Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of over 180 organizations involved in refugee sponsorship and protection and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.