Photo Credit: Diocese of BC
[ACNS] The Anglican diocese of British Columbia has called on the government of Canada to increase its targets for refugee resettlement to allow at least 7,000 more refugees to enter the country this year. In a statement, the diocese noted that Canada has set a target for 25,000 refugees to be resettled in 2017, compared to the previous year’s target of 44,800.
The statement said there was an “unprecedented need for refugee resettlement” in the wake of a U.S. government executive order suspending refugee admissions for 120 days and it appealed to the government to “continue to show leadership” in refugee resettlement: “We recognize that we cannot fill the vacuum the U.S. government has left, but we must do what we can” the statement said.
Canada operates a private sponsorship programme in which both major organisations and smaller groups can offer to take responsibility for refugees entering the country.
Quoting official statistics, the statement noted that government assistance to refugees has undergone a “significant decline” this year compared to last. Of the 25,000 refugees to be resettled in Canada, the government plans to sponsor 7,500, with the bulk of the remainder being sponsored privately; Canada’s private sponsorship programme relies on both major organizations and smaller groups to take responsibility for refugees entering the country and providing for their needs for their initial months in the country.
The statement calls on Canada to increase resettlement efforts so that in 2017, government and BVOR refugee sponsorships (a programme that combines government and private sponsorship) are “at least equal to” the number of privately sponsored refugees.
The diocese of British Columbia said it was currently sponsoring 268 refugees, an effort being supported by “over 500” volunteers. This includes a partnership with the Islamic Centre of Nanaimo and Mosque Al-Iman in Victoria that has focused on supporting Muslim refugees.
The statement also denounced the attack in late January on a Quebec City mosque that left six worshippers dead, and expressed “outrage” at the U.S. executive order, which, in addition to suspending refugee admissions, temporarily bans entry to the U.S. for citizens of Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Libya.