Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

June 18, 2010 18:31 ET

Canada Celebrates World Refugee Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 18, 2010) - The Government of Canada will join the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and people around the world to celebrate World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20. This annual event recognizes and acknowledges the courage and resilience of refugees and displaced persons from around the world. 

This is a particularly special occasion as the UNHCR marks the 100,000th referral of an Iraqi refugee for resettlement.

"I extend my congratulations to the UNHCR in reaching this milestone," said Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. "Canada has a long history of helping those most in need and is proud to work with the UNHCR in this endeavour."

Canada has an active resettlement program for Iraqi refugees who have sought asylum in neighbouring countries and is providing much needed humanitarian assistance. Canada is committed to resettling at least 12,000 Iraqi refugees by 2012.

In 2010, Canada also increased the number of resettlement spaces for refugees resettled from Turkey from 475 to 640. A large proportion of these refugees will be Iranian, some of whom are facing potential execution in Iran for their sexual orientation.

"I can't imagine more legitimate grounds for protection than those who are facing potential execution in Iran for their sexuality," the Minister said. "These are people who are clearly in need of protection, and Canada has already received a number of gay and lesbian Iranian refugee claimants through the UNHCR, typically through Turkey."

Canada is also a leader in mobilizing international efforts to find solutions for refugees in protracted situations. This includes the Government's decision to resettle up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal over the next few years and the resettlement of 3,900 Karen refugees from Thailand.

"Canada has welcomed refugees seeking a secure, law-abiding society based on democracy and human rights," said Beverly J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. "Our government's support to organizations such as the UNHCR provides humanitarian assistance and protection to some of the world's most vulnerable populations."

Of the estimated 10.5 million UN-designated refugees in the world today, approximately 100,000 are resettled by participating resettlement countries each year. Canada annually resettles 10,000 to 12,000, or one out of every 10 refugees resettled globally, through its government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee programs.

And although Canada has one of the most generous refugee resettlement policies in the world, we want to do more to help.

As part of the package of reforms for Canada's asylum system, known as the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Government of Canada proposes to increase the number of refugees resettled from overseas as well as the support we provide to help them settle in Canada. Only by fixing the broken in-Canada system can we effectively increase the generosity of our overseas system.

If the legislation receives Royal Assent, Canada would increase the resettlement target by 2,500. This increase would bring the total number of refugees resettled by Canada to as many as 14,500 a year. This increase will mean Canada would be resettling more refugees per capita than any other country in the world.

Canada is committed to strengthening its role as a global leader in refugee protection by enhancing its resettlement programs. And we look forward to continuing our close and mutually beneficial relationship with the UNHCR both domestically and abroad.

"Congratulations once again to the UNHCR on your remarkable achievement," said Minister Kenney.

For more information on World Refugee Day, visit our Web site at:

Follow us on Twitter at

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Alykhan Velshi
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Communications Branch
    Media Relations Unit