Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

March 19, 2008 14:48 ET

Canada to Double Number of Iraqi Refugees

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 19, 2008) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced that Canada will more than double the number of Convention refugees it receives this year from Iraq.

Canada will welcome between 1,800 and 2,000 Iraqi refugees in 2008, up from approximately 900 in 2007. The majority will be resettled from Syria and Jordan.

"This year, we are responding to the situation in Iraq by significantly increasing the number of Iraqi refugees we accept," said Minister Finley. "Consistent with Canada's longstanding tradition of providing protection to refugees most in need, we will continue to monitor this situation and explore options to further meet resettlement needs with respect to Iraqis."

Including the Iraqi refugees, Canada is increasing the Middle East resettlement target to 3,300 people this year, which is a 54 percent increase over 2007. This means that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will be allocating almost one third of its global resettlement places to Iraqi and other refugees displaced in the region by war.

This increase builds on Canada's previous commitment, announced November 19, 2007, to help reunite families affected by the situation in Iraq by expediting processing for immediate family members, parents and grandparents, and orphans who are sponsored by a family member in Canada.

To meet Canada's commitments for 2008, missions will be considering applications referred to them by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as the private sponsorship community.

"Canada has always played an important international role in alleviating and finding solutions to the plight of refugees worldwide. We are pleased to note that Canada has yet again responded to the UNHCR's recent appeal to give more places to Iraqi and other refugees from the Middle East," said Mr. Abraham Abraham, UNHCR Representative in Canada.

The UNHCR is currently in the process of identifying the most vulnerable and those in need of resettlement. According to the UNHCR, more than two million Iraqis have fled to neighbouring countries in the region, the majority in Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The UNHCR has asked the international resettlement community to help these neighbouring countries by providing humanitarian assistance and resettling those refugees who are identified as most vulnerable.

Every year, 19 countries from around the world resettle about 100,000 refugees. From that number, Canada annually resettles 10,000 to 12,000 refugees from 70 different nationalities, or one out of every ten refugees resettled globally.

In 2008, 2,060 people through the Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) Program and 1,240 through the Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) Program will be resettled from the Middle East region.

Canada is a leader in mobilizing international efforts to find solutions for refugees in protracted situations. Canada has already taken action on a number of fronts including the Government's decision to resettle Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and Karen in Thailand.

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Tim Vail
    Press Secretary
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Karen Shadd-Evelyn
    Spokesperson, Media Relations
    Communications Branch