By David F. Rooney
Our local Revelstoke for Refugees organization has been ready to receive the seven-member Syrian refugee family we chose months ago but it now appears that they won’t be here any time soon.
In fact, it will be some time in 2017 before the Almastou family gets to board their flight to Canada from the Jordanian refugee camp they have been in for the last three years.
You’d think that, with $60,000 in the bank and a house ready to receive them their arrival in this country would be swift. But, while that may be what should happen, it’s not the way this process is actually working.
“Apparently, it now appears it will be some time in 2017 — maybe the spring — before they get here,” Rana Nelson said in an interview.
Nelson, chairwoman of Revelstoke for Refugees, said this is disappointing, but the organization’s plans for the Almastou family are robust and remain in place. She also noted that it may be possible to contact the Almastous directly using the Whatsapp on the Internet.
“We know refugees and sponsors are disappointed that expedited processing could not continue, but Canada’s ongoing response to the refugee crisis must be done in a sustainable way,” Nancy Chan, a media advisor with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s western region office in Vancouver, told The Revelstoke Current.
“For all privately sponsored Syrian applications submitted up to March 31, 2016, every effort will be made to finalize their processing by the end of 2016 or early 2017.”
The federal process governing the admission of privately sponsored refugees is so slow-moving that it may be 2017 or even 2018 before the families Canadian communities are waiting for even step on a plane bound for this country. So, the wait Revelstoke’s sponsorship group is experiencing seems appears to be normal.
“I have spent the last few weeks inquiring further about the refugee process and getting a feel for the experiences other sponsorship groups in our riding are having,” said Laura Branswell, constituent assistant to Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski.
“Due to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s long processing times for privately sponsored refugees the wait time you indicated for Revelstoke’s sponsoring group seems on par. Some Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) across the riding are still waiting to learn what their quotas will be for the year. Wayne is happy to hear that the fundraising and volunteer efforts in the community has had such a positive outcome ($60,000), yet unfortunately, the amount raised does not seem to influence IRCC’s processing times.”
If a sponsorship group has not yet submitted an application, the refugees will not likely arrive in Canada in until 2017 or 2018. Unfortunately, only 10,000 Syrian refugees will come in 2016, she said.
“Regarding all other groups that already submitted applications, I am able to follow-up with IRCC on the status of any application if this would be helpful to SAHs in Revelstoke,” Branswell said.
Wayne recognizes that there is a problem with how the IRCC is currently operating. The NDP are encouraging Minister McCallum to address the long wait times and delays, by utilizing the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) or International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help with the processing.
“In terms of different avenues for assisting the Syrian family in the Jordanian refugee camp I have requested the assistance of the Parliamentarian Library to learn more about what options may be available to community groups, I’ll update you when I hear back from them,” she said.
While this may be disappointing to some people, Canada’s record in welcoming Syrian refugees is really rather good with more than 30,000 of them finding refuge in 316 communities coast to coast.
|Refugee category||Number of refugees|
|Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee||3,085|
|Privately Sponsored Refugee||11,360|