OTTAWA: Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has announced that Canada welcomed its 20,000th Afghan refugee since August 2021 last week. The latest newcomers arrived in Toronto on a charter flight from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Approximately 337 government-assisted refugees were on board, and will settle in communities across Canada, including Abbotsford (BC), Calgary (AB), and Windsor (ON).
Resettling at least 40,000 Afghan nationals is a complex and unprecedented initiative that requires a whole-of-government approach, as well as strong domestic and international partnerships. This milestone would not be possible without the support of provinces and territories, resettlement service providers, and Canadians who have sponsored Afghan refugees, donated their goods and time, and helped newcomers settle in their communities.
The Ministry has ongoing collaboration of key international partners including the United States, the UAE and Pakistan, international organizations and referral partners including the International Organization for Migration, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Frontline Defenders and ProtectDefenders.eu.
The Minister said Canada remain on track to reach its commitment to resettle at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans to Canada by the end of 2023. The Government of Canada, with the support of settlement service providers, is also working here at home to support Afghan newcomers as they build their new lives across Canada – and are making meaningful contributions in their communities:
• Maryam Masoomi arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in October 2021. In Afghanistan, Maryam attended Marefat High School, that championed education for women. Since coming to Canada, she has won an award for her leadership skills, met with His Majesty King Charles III, and is hosting a local radio show and working with newcomer youth.
• Najibullah Sorosh dedicated more than 20 years to educating children, including girls, and helped to establish two high schools that had close to gender parity. After fleeing Kabul, he landed in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in September 2021, and works with refugees and immigrants.
• Sheila Qayumi advocated for peace and women’s rights in Afghanistan. Since settling in Calgary in September 2021, she has found meaningful work as an interpreter and counselor helping other Afghan women integrate into Canadian society.
• Ghousuddin Frotan, an Afghan journalist, arrived in Canada earlier this year with his family, leaving behind the English school and non-profit organization he founded in Kandahar. From their new home in Windsor, Ontario, the Frotan children have embraced their new school, and Ghousuddin resumed his journalism career, winning a fellowship from the University of Toronto.
Minister Fraser said: “I am proud to mark this important milestone as we pass the halfway mark in our commitment. While we are on the right track toward reaching our goal, there is still much to be done. Every one of the 20,000 Afghans welcomed to Canada is a life transformed. These newcomers will enrich the communities that have embraced them.
The situation in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries remains very challenging, and we truly appreciate all that our partners at home and abroad have done to bring Afghan refugees to safety in Canada.”
António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration, said:”The safe and dignified resettlement of refugees globally has been a central part of the work of the International Organization for Migration for decades. We continue to work closely with the Government of Canada and others to ensure thousands of vulnerable Afghans are provided the opportunity to restart their lives in a secure and welcoming environment.”
• Canada’s resettlement capacity is distributed across more than 137 communities.
• Afghan refugees become permanent residents upon arrival in Canada. They receive at least 12 months of income support under the Resettlement Assistance Program and have access to settlement services, including language training and as well as the Interim Federal Health Program for medical coverage.
• The latest arrivals were referred to Canada by the US as part of our humanitarian program, and arrive as government assisted refugees. The program resettles vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted religious or ethnic minorities, 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, journalists and those who supported Canadian journalists
• The International Organization for Migration has conducted health assessments, presented pre-departure orientation sessions and secured transportation for thousands of Afghans seeking safety in Canada.