Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

February 23, 2011 12:59 ET

Government of Canada Welcomes More Refugees Seeking Freedom From Persecution

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 23, 2011) - The arrival of 50 Montagnard refugees who had fled persecution in Vietnam was announced today by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Canada agreed, at the emergency request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to resettle a group of Vietnamese Montagnard refugees who had been under risk of return to Vietnam.

"Canada had the capacity to act quickly in response to this situation and we are pleased to welcome these individuals to Québec City as they have been living in an uncertain situation for far too long," said Minister Kenney.

This group of Montagnard hill tribespeople from Vietnam's Central Highlands fled in 2006 and crossed the border into Cambodia. They were initially under consideration for resettlement to another country, but had not yet been admitted there. As the refugee centre in Cambodia was closing, Canadian officials acted quickly to resettle the remaining refugees. The acceptance by Canada of this group means that the protection needs of all members of the original group that fled in 2006 have now been addressed.

"Canada has a proud tradition of opening its doors to people from around the world and providing a safe haven for those fleeing communism," added Minister Kenney. "Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, more than half a million Vietnamese fled Vietnam. Thanks to the outpouring of support from Canadians, we welcomed more than 60,000 refugees in two years from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia under the Private Sponsorship Program."

The Montagnard refugees are just the latest refugees from Vietnam to find protection in Canada. In 2008, the Government of Canada facilitated, on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, the immigration of approximately 250 Vietnamese who had been living in the Philippines without status since the late 1970s, when they fled communism.

"We are committed to further strengthening Canada's role as a global leader in refugee protection," Minister Kenney said. "That is why the Government of Canada committed, as part of the measures to reform Canada's asylum system, to increase the total number of genuine refugees resettled annually by 20 percent, including those seeking freedom from persecution."

"These refugees came to Canada the legal way, applying to the UNHCR and then being selected for resettlement. They didn't pay human smugglers to jump the queue, or try to abuse our immigration system by lying to Immigration Canada," added Minister Kenney.

The Montagnards arrived in Quebec as government-assisted refugees. This means they will receive settlement support through Quebec's humanitarian immigration program.

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Contact Information

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