Canadian Government has recently announced its plan to settle 25,000 Syrian refugees in the country. David Devine, the Ambassador to Viet Nam, talks with Viet Nam News about the humanitarian plan.
Why is Canada implementing this plan? How have the Canadian people reacted to this plan so far?
In Syria, after four years of war, over 11 million Syrians – more than half their population – have been driven from their homes and over 250,000 have been killed, including over 12,000 children.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Canada has contributed more than CA$900 million (US$673 million) to support stabilisation efforts, provide development assistance, contribute to humanitarian efforts, and enhance security.
The ongoing conflict in Syria has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. The Government of Canada's plan is to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees from the region as quickly as possible, as Syrian refugees have already experienced much hardship fleeing from the war and tragedies in their homeland.
Of the 25,000 identified, 10,000 will be resettled in Canada by the end of December this year, and the rest will be resettled in Canada in January and February of next year.
Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada's humanitarian tradition. It reflects our commitment to Canadians and demonstrates to the world that we have a shared responsibility to help people who are displaced and persecuted.
The Government of Canada will work with Canadians, including private sponsors, non-governmental organizations, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees.
The Government of Canada's plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees will be implemented in five phases: identifying Syrian refugees to come to Canada; selecting and processing Syrian refugees overseas; transportation to Canada; arrival and welcoming in Canada; and settlement and community integration. It is intended to provide rapid protection for vulnerable Syrian refugees while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Open hearts and welcoming communities: it's the Canadian way. Many Canadians are asking how they can help, and many are responding with offers of support, from real estate developers who have offered the use of their buildings as interim housing, to individual Canadians offering their time and funding to sponsor families. Canadians are showing their generosity, and many are remembering their own history of immigration to Canada and the reasons for which it was undertaken.
Is your government concerned about the possible security threat if someone from IS blends in with refugees in order to carry out a terrorist strike in your country?
Our security screening process is robust and proven. It will be applied consistently and be responsive to the changing environment. This will include comprehensive interviews, the collection of information and biometrics to assist with confirming identity, and checks across a range of databases. Safety and security will not be compromised: Protecting the safety, security and health of Canadians and the refugees is a key factor in guiding the Government of Canada's actions throughout this initiative. The Government of Canada will ensure that refugees are screened to minimize risk to Canadians, as we do for all travelers to Canada.
Canada will be working with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify vulnerable refugees who are a lower security risk for resettlement in Canada. Our officials are also working to seamlessly integrate security screening at key points in the process. We continue to ensure that every refugee welcomed by Canada under this humanitarian effort will have undergone a robust, multi-layered screening process prior to their arrival. Complete security screening will have been completed before refugees are permitted to fly to Canada. Upon their arrival in Canada, they will be welcomed and processed for admission into Canada.
Our goal is to ensure screening is thorough and efficient so that refugees and their families are able to move on to the important work of settling in their new communities.
Under the plan, single males will be turned away. Could you explain the reason? Why are gay single male being accepted?
In an effort to maximize the success in resettlement while minimizing security risks, and to provide a new home for vulnerable refugees, Canada is asking the UNHCR to prioritize vulnerable refugees such as: complete families; women at risk; and persons identified as vulnerable due to membership in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.
At this time, single adult males will be considered if they are identified as vulnerable due to membership in the LGBTI community or accompanying their parents as part of a family.
Canada vigorously supports these vulnerable individuals and is against discrimination based on a person's gender or sexual orientation. We are committed to standing up for the human rights of all, and strongly believe that a person's sexuality must never be considered a crime or form an excuse for violence or discrimination directed towards that person. In Viet Nam, for example, Canada has supported efforts aimed at raising awareness about LGBTI issues, and we are proud to help advance the protection of LGBTI rights through projects with local partners.
What social policies will the Canadian Government offer the refugees to resettle? What specific benefits or subsidies will the refugees receive?
This is a national and collaborative effort and Canada recognises the essential role of provinces and territories providing support such as health services and affordable housing in the immediate term and eventual labour market supports, and of municipalities and civil society groups who will provide a range of services to help the refugees.
The concerted efforts of the provinces, territories, municipalities and civil society groups will be key in helping us meet our goal of successfully resettling and integrating Syrian refugees into Canada.
Additionally, the Government of Canada announced CA$100 million in humanitarian assistance funding to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help respond to pressing needs, including shelter, protection, education and health for those affected by the Syrian crisis. Of the CA$100 million, CA$10 million has been set aside to help the UNHCR identify, contact, counsel and submit Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey eligible for resettlement.
Sexual and gender-based violence and child protection will be amongst the filtering criteria. This will support the Government of Canada's commitment to admit a total of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada.
At present, terrorism is a global threat. How does Canada play a role in the fight against terrorism, especially against the IS?
Canada's Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Building Resilience Against Terrorism, outlines the first priority of the Government of Canada: to protect Canada and ensure the safety of Canadians at home and abroad.
The global terrorist threat is becoming more diverse and complex. Canada's approach to addressing these threats are adaptable and forward-looking, so that we can react to emerging threats but also identify and understand emerging trends.
Canada is at the forefront of international efforts to counter ISIS. To address the significant security threat posed by ISIS, as well as the humanitarian and political challenges it has created, Canada joined a U.S.-led coalition of partner countries determined to degrade and defeat ISIS.
This requires a campaign focused on multiple lines of effort, including: supporting military operations, capacity building, and training; stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters; cutting off ISIS' funding sources; providing humanitarian assistance; exposing ISIS (counter messaging); and supporting stabilisation to address short-term needs and to support resiliency, stability and prosperity in the region.
Operation IMPACT is the Canadian Armed Forces' (CAF) contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF) – the multinational coalition to halt and degrade the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Republic of Iraq and in Syria. Op IMPACT is halting and degrading the so-called ISIS, which has lost the ability to operate freely in roughly 25 to 30 percent of populated areas of Iraq territory it previously controlled.
Approximately 600 CAF personnel are deployed as part of Joint Task Force-Iraq (JTF-I), which includes provision of planning and liaison personnel to work with the US and other coalition partners; command and control, and logistics; and an air task force. — VNS