Syria Refugee Crisis

Topics: Refugee, Internally displaced person, Canada Pages: 6 (898 words) Published: January 30, 2015
Elisabeth Novak
INTD 200
The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Canada is Not Playing its Role.
The Syrian civil war originating in 2011 has put millions in perilous situations, now involving most of the international community. With approximately 6.5 million people internally displaced, and millions more fleeing the country as refugees or seeking refugee status, the Syrian war has become a worldwide refugee crisis, in desperate need of international help1. Over the past couple decades, Canada has proved to be a leader in the acceptance of refugees from around the world, especially during a crisis. But as of today, the country has done little to fulfill its global role in protecting those affected in Syria, mainly due to processing delays and poor management of refugee applications, but also due to an insufficient commitment to helping those in need. First of all, it is important to understand how Canada defines refugees, what programs it has to fund the arrival and care for these people, and how it goes about selecting them. According to the government of Canada, refugees are “individuals with a well-founded fear of persecution or are persons at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they were to return to their country of nationality or residence.”2 People seeking protection from within Canada and are afraid of returning to their country of origin must go through the domestic asylum system, whereas anyone seeking assistance from outside Canada must go through the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program (RHSP), and can be sponsored by private groups. 3 Sponsors include church groups as well as ethnic organizations, which “agree to provide emotional and financial support to refugees, including housing, clothing and food, for at least a year”4. These sponsorships as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) play an important role in the selection and referral of those seeking refugee status and aid.5 It is evident that throughout the years, Canada has maintained a leading position in the resettlement of refugees coming from all parts of the world. Through the RHSP, it is estimated that Canada accepts 25,000 refugees every year6, taking in around one tenth of the yearly total of refugees relocated.7 Moreover, when it comes to human crises, Canada has a history of “fast-tracking” refugee applications originating from the countries affected, in order to free citizens from harm as quickly as possible. These crises include the 2007 war in Iraq, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, together involving thousands of foreigners granted “temporary residence permits” or “permanent residence” in very little time8. But in Syria’s case, Canada has accepted a mere 200 refugees, even though several thousands of dollars have been raised by the 85 private sponsor groups that exist within Canada and are formally recognized by the government9. This effort on the part of the Canadian government pales in comparison to several other countries of resettlement. To avoid increasing the Syrian death toll of more than 100,000 to date, neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have accepted 1 million, 667,636, and 588,979 Syrian refugees respectfully10. Many European countries have also done their part. Sweden alone has offered a new home to over 30,000 Syrian refugees at least for the time being11. Canada’s failure to live up to expectations is in part to do with unreasonably long refugee application processing time, and poor management of these applications in general. In fact, although Citizenship and Immigration Canada originally promised a 30-day deadline for the review of refugee sponsorship applications back in 2012, the expected review time today is of a little under one year12. Furthermore, delays have caused an accumulation of some 21,000 untouched applications13. These delays, as well as the constant change in the application...
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