‘Very, very few’ Syrian refugees came to Canada from refugee

‘Very, very few’ Syrian refugees came to Canada from refugee

Postby Oscar » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:32 am

‘Very, very few’ Syrian refugees came to Canada from refugee camps: CBSA official Bolduc

[ http://www.hilltimes.com/2016/04/04/ver ... lduc/55732 ]

By ABBAS RANA April 4, 2016

According to a backgrounder on Immigration Canada's website, the government chose Syrian refugees with the help of the United Nations Refugee Agency who were most vulnerable and posed no security risk. This includes complete families, women at risk, and people in the LGBT community.

“Very, very few” of the thousands of Syrian refugees who have come to Canada came from refugee camps and most had been living in rented apartments in Syria’s neighbouring countries, a senior CBSA official told Parliament in February.

Conservative are now accusing the federal government of conveying a false perception to Canadians that refugees were selected from refugee camps. But the government says it has never said all Syrian refugees came from refugee camps and that it chose the most vulnerable refugees and those who did not pose a security threat. And another expert says the living conditions in some of the apartments are worse than the camps.

Martin Bolduc, vice-president of the programs branch of Canada Border Services Agency, told the House Public Safety and National Security Committee on Feb. 18 that a vast majority of the 21,000 Syrian refugees who had arrived in Canada by that time were not selected from refugee camps administered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). But Mr. Bolduc did not release a breakdown.

“Most of the 21,000 refugees who have made it to our borders were not housed in camps,” Mr. Bolduc told committee members. “They had been living in theatre for a number of years, renting apartments, so I just wanted that for the precision. They were not housed in camps administered by the UNHCR.”

Conservative MP Larry Miller (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Ont.), who is a member of the House Public Safety Committee, asked Mr. Bolduc if he had a breakdown of how many Syrian refugees who came to Canada came from refugee camps. Mr. Bolduc said he did not but added that “very, very few came out of camps.”

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Conservative MP Erin O’Toole (Durham, Ont.), also a member of the Public Safety Committee, noted that in November, Mr. McCallum, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.) and Health Minister Jane Philpott (Markham-Stouffville, Ont.) visited refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, which received an enormous amount of media coverage. He said the idea behind visiting Syrian refugees in camps was to highlight the urgent needs of refugees and questioned why the government expedited the process to bring 25,000 refugees in Canada.

“If you filmed a visit to [refugees living in apartments], there wouldn’t be the same sense of urgency that we need to move so dramatically quick,” said Mr. O’Toole. “The camp was used to try and explain the very accelerated timeline and emergency expenditures when, in actual fact, it was really nothing to do with the camps.”

Mr. O’Toole said he thought it was “a bit disingenuous” for the ministers to visit refugee camps accompanied by the media when they knew that a majority of the refugees would not be selected from there.

“That’s a bit disingenuous, when you know full well that any Canadian immigration official wasn’t in the camp processing people,” said Mr. O’Toole.

“That’s a totally different media image to project to Canadians when you’re trying to say, ‘We’re doing this on such an amazingly tight and expensive and time-consuming compressed timeframe because of the urgency.’ Well, it’s a little less urgent seeming if people are living in apartments and working in the economy. The image of the camps, I think, was used in part to suggest why there had to be such a dramatic time line used.”

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Oscar
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