Media Release

For immediate release
11 November 2004
Refugee Families Endure Years of Separation

Montreal.  The Canadian Council for Refugees today released a report, More Than a Nightmare, showing that refugees in Canada wait years to reunite with their spouses and children abroad.

“Keeping families separated is cruel, unnecessary and unworthy of Canada,” said Nick Summers, President.  “We call on the government to solve the problem by allowing families of refugees to travel immediately to Canada to be processed here.”

Many of those affected by delays in family reunification are children.  The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticized Canada, in 1995 and again in 2003, for taking “insufficient measures aimed at family reunification.”  As a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada is obliged to deal with applications for family reunification for a child “in a positive, humane and expeditious manner.”

Among the case examples included in the report are the following:

·    Mahmoud and Samira (not their real names) last saw their two teenage daughters four years ago.  Processing of their application for family reunification has been going on for more than three years. According to Mahmoud, “It’s more than a nightmare for me.  The stress is making me ill. Four years and no result.”

·    Farideh (not her real name) was forced to leave her son in Iran over four years ago. She applied for family reunification two and a half years ago and processing doesn’t even seem to have begun.  She was jailed for five years with her son as a small child and tortured in her home country.

Long delays put family members overseas at risk, especially when they are facing persecution or in countries at war.  Prolonged separation also leads to family breakdowns and makes it more difficult for refugees to integrate into their new home in Canada.

More than a Nightmare: Delays in Refugee Family Reunification is available at (or from the “What’s New” page)

Nick Summers, President, (709) 682-9329
Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
To speak to refugees separated from their family: Catherine Balfour (514) 277-7223 (ext 1)

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. 

6839 Drolet, #302, Montréal,QC, Canada H2S 2T1 TÉL.: 514 277-7223 FAX : (514) 277-1447