A new international agreement between Canada and the UAE will guarantee safe passage for Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban.
Under its deal with the UAE, Canada will resettle up to 1,000 Afghan nationals who were evacuated from Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul and are currently in the UAE.
With the support of the UAE, Canada welcomed three flights from that country carrying more than 300 Afghan refugees each last year.
“Safe passage from Afghanistan remains a challenge unlike any other the government of Canada has faced in a humanitarian resettlement program,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“The success of our mission would not be possible without partners like the United Arab Emirates and I am incredibly grateful for their cooperation. Canada will not waiver in its commitment to resettle at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans.”
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The first charter flight under the new Canada-UAE partnership landed in Toronto on May 19 with 317 Afghan nationals on board. As of the end of May, Canada has welcomed more than 650 Afghans through this deal with the UAE and they were expected to settle in 15 communities across Canada.
Ottawa has pledged to welcome at least 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of this year. As of May 18, the latest date for which data is available, Canada had welcomed 31,910 Afghan refugees since August 2021.
Under Canada’s humanitarian resettlement program, those deemed to be the most vulnerable among the Afghans, including women leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted and religious minorities, 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and journalists, are given priority.
“Although the Afghanistan resettlement effort is one of the largest and most difficult in Canada’s history, we remain committed to maximizing every opportunity to support these vulnerable Afghans in their transition to a better life in Canada,” said Fraser.
The IRCC has developed several special programs and measures to bring Afghan to Canada out of recognition for the help they provided during Canada’s combat role and, later, its peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan from 2001 through to 2021.
During those missions, 158 Canadian Armed Forces members died in the cause of peace and freedom in Afghanistan.
After the Taliban fundamentalist Islamic group finally seized control of the country in mid-August, 2021, many Afghans sought to escape out of fear of retribution for their help of Canada’s missions and support for western democratic freedoms.
The IRCC has made it easier to sponsor Afghan refugees through the humanitarian program, allowing groups of five and community sponsors to sponsor Afghan refugees without having to submit a refugee status determination document if this document isn’t available.
“The safe and dignified resettlement of refugees globally has been a central part of International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) work for more than 70 years and we are proud to be part of Canada’s efforts to provide a new home for tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans,” said IOM director general António Vitorino.
Afghan Refugees Have Been Welcomed In 170 Communities In Canada
“We continue to work closely with the government of Canada and other partners to ensure Afghan refugees are given the opportunity to restart their lives in safety.”
As they have arrived in Canada, the Afghan refugees have been welcomed in more than 170 communities across the country. More than half of those who are being accepted as refugees were those who helped Canada, including 18,000 spaces for the Special Immigration Measures (SIMs) program for Afghan nationals and their families who assisted the government of Canada.
Canada, one of the first countries to launch a special humanitarian resettlement program for vulnerable Afghans, is also welcoming up to 5,000 extended family members of Afghan interpreters who came to Canada as part of earlier programs.
Upon their arrival in Canada, the Afghan refugees get a minimum of 12 months of income support under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) and also have access to settlement services, including language training and the Interim Federal Health Program for medical coverage.
A reported 3.5 million Afghans have been displaced, an estimated 78 per cent of whom are women and children. Roughly one million children are thought to be at risk of starving to death.