Canada will welcome 5,000 Afghan refugees evacuated by the United States under an agreement reached by both countries.
They will be accepted as part of the Humanitarian Refugee Program of Canada.
Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship disclosed this today at a teleconference while providing updates on the second phase of the evacuation of Afghan refugees.
Though the coalition forces have completed their mission this does not mark the end of Canada’s efforts to get those left behind out of Afghanistan. Those who want to avail themselves with the humanitarian pathways to Canada can eventually fulfill their wish to come to Canada
As part of the agreement Canada will support Afghans evacuated by the United States. This will be under Canada’s Afghanistan Resettlement Program. The agreement will also help to reduce pressure on traffic areas currently held by the Taliban.
Apart from the special program with the United States, Canada is working with the Five Eyes – Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States.
Canada raised the importance of safe passage of Afghans who wish to leave the country during a meeting with the Five Eyes.
The necessity for the five countries to speak with one voice on Afghan issues was discussed. One hundred countries have joined the Five Eyes on this issue. There are assurances received by the Taliban that Afghan citizens with travel authorizations from other countries would be allowed to safely leave Afghanistan.
“We have a clear commitment from the Taliban and we are going to hold them to it.
”It goes without saying that things are extremely volatile, and we take nothing for granted,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship.
The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, IRCC, has now answered more than 9,000 phone calls and 46, 000 emails.
The minister promised IRCC would continue processing Afghan files.
“Over the past week, those wishing to come to Canada have safely made their ways to safe countries.
“Some of those flights have now touched down in Canada and more are expected to reach Canada in the next few days from various countries,” said Marco Mendicino.
The minister assured those who applied under the current special immigration measures that their applications are being processed and once approved their visa will remain valid.
And for those who applied through other immigration measures such as Family Sponsorship or Protected Persons in Canada with dependent families overseas, their cases are being prioritized.
They will continue to be eligible, whether they remain in Afghanistan or made their way to another country.
The IRCC would continue to work with provincial and territorial partners as well as municipalities and settlement agencies across the country to support Afghan refugees and welcome them into their new communities.
“The efforts of those who welcome refugees cannot be overlooked,” he noted. Refugees often arrive with very little. They are provided essentials like clothing, food supplies and toys for their children. The settlement agencies provide temporary housing and later, find a permanent place for the refugees to live.
Mendicino touched on the contribution of individuals, corporations and veterans who have stepped up in welcoming Afghan refugees.
The veterans were the first to help interpreters who were looking for jobs in Canada including in the tech sector.
Some businesses have come forward to help in settlement of Afghan refugees.
Airbnb is offering temporary housing for up to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide and thousands of those houses would be in Canada.
WestJet is helping to bring the refugees to other parts of Canada.
Walmart and Rogers are also helping the new arrivals.
On validity of documents issued to those in Afghanistan wishing to leave, the minister said every effort would be made to get them to Canada.
The documents would clearly state that they are permitted to travel to Canada. Canada is taking the best information available from the area as well as from interlocutors and partners from the region so that the language in the documentation can be expressed in clear terms. Those with documents are advised to keep the documents they have been issued by the IRCC and from the Global Affairs Canada.
Canada is not forgetting those in Afghanistan who fear retribution. Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs said the true test of Taliban is to allow those who wish to leave, passage out of Afghanistan. “We will judge them by their actions not their words,” he said.
“Afghans with travel documents to other countries must be allowed to move safely and freely out of the country without interference.
“Canada and its allies are firm on this point and we are united.
“The Taliban has committed to letting those people leave now. It is time for them to follow through.”
Canada is making efforts to allow them leave safely by Taliban and to get the airport opened. Although Canada cannot control decisions made by individuals to exit on land border to neighbouring countries, it is in contact with countries that are neighbours to Afghanistan.
Canada will be talking to Pakistan to let them know if anyone from Afghanistan arrives at their border or that of any other country, their entry should be facilitated. Canadian embassies and consulates in those countries would process their entry to Canada.