©UNHCR/David Azia

By Jean-Nicolas Beuze

After three years in Canada, it is time for me to return to the humanitarian frontlines. As you read this I will be on the ground as the UNHCR Representative in Sana’a, Yemen, where a shocking 80 per cent of the country’s over 28 million people desperately require humanitarian aid.

Canada will always hold a special place in my heart. I have met so many incredible people here, from newly arrived refugees amazed by such a heartfelt welcome, to compassionate Canadians who mobilize communities who are ready to help, to so many wonderful colleagues and partners I have had the pleasure of working with throughout this beautiful land.

There is no doubt that the world has changed markedly in the three years I have been here. We are living in divisive times, where “others,” who often hail from beyond our borders, are now feared and even demonized. Canada is not immune to this way of thinking, but I want to reiterate that Canadians have nothing to fear and so much to gain.

This country has a strong foundation of welcoming and supporting diverse groups of newcomers. But by location alone, Canada is unlikely to face large numbers of asylum seekers like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and some European countries have experienced.

Canada has the means—and an economic impetus—to welcome more refugees. One of the positive changes I’ve witnessed is the willingness of Canadian businesses to hire and train newcomers.

This is a game changer; Canadians are eager to support people who are almost certain to become contributing, productive members of our society.

This issue of UNHCR Canada Magazine offers you inspiring stories of refugees facing incredible odds and yet managing to survive, and even thrive. You’ll read about Nazret Kobodom, an Eritrean teen and gifted athlete who is now burning up the track in Calgary. You’ll also learn about the impact of York University’s post-graduate online programme that is connecting students in a Kenyan refugee camp.

We also update you on UNHCR’s efforts to fight climate change—which is now a factor in the mass displacement of people.

And our look at the ninth anniversary of the Syrian conflict focuses on the victims of war who still live in Syria, displaced from their original homes, but unable to leave a devastated country.

As always, thank you for your continued support and for standing in solidarity with refugees around the globe. Be proud of what you have accomplished and please remember, as a country, that we can all do more to reach out to fellow human beings who are marginalized, persecuted or forcibly displaced. We will all gain in strength, humanity and grace.



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