Canada to Resettle More Iraqi Refugees

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 23, 2010) - Canada will extend its measures for Iraqi refugees for at least two additional years, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today. As a result of today's announcement, Canada will resettle an additional 8,600 refugees.

In 2009, in response to ongoing conditions in Iraq and requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Canada more than doubled the number of resettled refugees it would welcome through its mission in Damascus, where most Iraqi refugees apply. Canada committed to resettling approximately 2,500 refugees a year under its private sponsorship program between 2009 and 2011. In 2010, Canada also increased the number of refugees from Damascus it plans to resettle through the UN program as government-assisted refugees, from 1,400 to 1,800 per year.

"These refugees choose to wait for the chance to come to Canada legally, rather than pay human smugglers to help them jump the queue. The Government of Canada appreciates their respect for our laws, and we look forward to welcoming them to Canada," said Minister Kenney. "It is unfair to those seeking to come to Canada through legitimate, legal means such as the measure I am announcing today, when others pay human smugglers to help jump our immigration queue. When this happens, Canada's immigration system becomes less fair, and less balanced."

With today's announcement, this commitment has been extended by least two additional years to 2013. "Canada already has a generous resettlement program. And now, up to 8,600 more refugees will find protection in Canada," said Minister Kenney. "At a time when many other countries are scaling back their refugee programs, we are actually expanding ours."

As part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which was passed into law earlier this summer, the Government of Canada will increase the number of resettled refugees received each year by 20 percent. This includes 2,000 more spots in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program and 500 more government-assisted refugees. This means that Canada will welcome as many as 14,500 refugees a year through its resettlement programs. Canada already resettles one out of every 10 refugees or 10 percent of the refugees resettled globally through its refugee programs.

These increases come as Minister Kenney is encouraging more groups to come forward and sponsor a refugee. "Canada has a long humanitarian tradition of helping those most in need. Over the last few years, we have resettled more than 3,900 Karen from Thailand and we are in the process of resettling up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal."

Canada is a global leader in resettlement. In fact, thirty years ago, thanks to the outpouring of support from Canadians, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program came into being as we welcomed more than 60,000 refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. More recently, Canada welcomed the remaining Vietnamese who had been living in the Philippines without status since the late 1970s.

In total, through the PSR Program, Canada has welcomed more than 200,000 refugees from all over the world, over and above the number of refugees resettled through the government assisted program.

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