Opinion Sultan Jessa: Settling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the year end will be a colossal task!

(WIP - needs to be formatted) Opinion Sultan Jessa: Settling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the year end will be a colossal task!By Sultan Jessa

MONTREAL: An election pledge by the new Liberal Prime Minister­elect Justin Trudeau to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada before the end of the year will be a colossal but not an impossible task.

The time frame is too short considering the festive holiday season is just around the corner when official government business slows down considerably. Trudeau’s cabinet will be sworn in next week and the new refugee plan is expected to be launched immediately. But, is this plan feasible?

(WIP - needs to be formatted) Opinion Sultan Jessa: Settling 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the year end will be a colossal task!Refugee settlement groups openly admit this will be a near impossible task. A combination of military transport planes and charters would be required to move this many refugees over such a tight timeframe. The easiest way out will be honour the pledge but do it progressively over the next six months.

I just returned to Canada from a two week visit to Turkey, which continues to brace for more refugees from neighboring Syria. Turkey, roughly the size of Quebec with a population of 80 million, is already home to 2,000,000 Syrian refugees. There were depressing stories about how Turkey is coping with the unprecedented human crisis. I saw Syrians who have taken refuge in public parks. Most Turks agree they have never seen anything like this before. More than 70,000 babies have been born to Syrian refugee families in Turkey since unrest broke out in March 2011. Turkey is expecting more than 1,000,000 more Syrians to cross its borders over the next few weeks before the cold weather settles in.

Syria’s worsening crisis is expected to displace another 2,000,000 million refugees in northern Syria following Russia’s decision to begin airstrikes. If Turkey’s fears are confirmed, the number of refugees in this country would rise to between 3,000,000 to 4,000,000. Many thousands of Syrian refugees are desperately trying to head to Europe as they despair ever returning home.

The refugee crisis continues to send shock waves right across Europe. Thousands of asylum seekers have no other choice than to sleep in the open in near freezing temperatures. If Turkey can do it then surely Canada with all the resources it has can accommodate 25,000 refugees. Settling these many refugees over such a short span is not only a herculean task but could pose many serious problems if refugee claimants are not thoroughly screened. Military basis have to make necessary arrangements to provide temporary accommodation until permanent homes are secured in new and communities right across Canada.

Successfully settling and integrating 25,000 Syrians in just over eight weeks will not be easy. Consideration has to be given to clothe and feed refugees and provide affordable housing for them. Trauma support programs have also to be put in place. The numbers are not difficult but the timeline can pose huge problems. Canada has done this in the past when it effectively settled refugees from Uganda, several eastern European countries and the Indochinese boat people. The timeframe is far too ambitious.

(Sultan Jessa is a retired Canadian journalist and a recipient of the Order of Canada)

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

One thought

  1. I humbly disagree with your views. Sir Winston Churchill did not delay his decisions at the time of 2nd world war though it was unparalleled risk in the history of the British Empire. Refugee problem is serious and time is very important. Canada needs to move fast. Planning is not easy but with our resources it can be done. If it is one’s family member that is facing loss of life, person will not wait. A refugee is no different when his/her life is threatened.


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