Vancouver, Prince Albert, Guelph, Port Moody and Rimouski latest to become Cities #WithRefugees
OTTAWA, Canada, June 27 (UNHCR) – Vancouver, B.C., Prince Albert, Sask., Guelph, Ont., Port Moody, B.C., and Rimouski, Que. are the latest Canadian cities to join a global UNHCR campaign by publicly committing to stand with refugees. These five cities join Victoria, B.C., Saskatoon, Sask. and Toronto, Ont., who pledged their support to the Cities #WithRefugees campaign in 2018.
More than 175 cities around the world have now signed this statement of solidarity to welcome refugees and promote their inclusion. “Joining this global movement is not only an expression of solidarity with refugees, but also demonstrates these cities’ commitment to remain open and compassionate and to strive on diversity.” said Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative in Canada. “I am delighted but not surprised that eight Canadian cities have now taken this stand publicly, and trust that many other cities will join. At a time when negative rhetoric scapegoating refugees far too often permeates public discourses, knowing that refugees can count on Canadian cities and their citizens is a reminder that humanity, diversity and inclusion are shared values by Canadians.”
According to UNHCR Global Trends report, two out of three of the 70 million forcibly displaced first settle in urban areas. Cities are therefore the first port of call when refugees and other displaced seek protection from violence and persecutions to rebuild their lives.
In Canada, this movement has been driven by citizens themselves: over the last month, Canadians have shown their support for the Cities #WithRefugees campaign, with more than 7,000 calling upon their cities to express their solidarity with refugees.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart noting that his city has welcomed many refugees over the years, acknowledged that their presence has made a significant positive impact on the entire community: “The community and well-being that refugees have found in our city has in turn helped to build the diversity and strength of the City of Vancouver.”
The Canadian experience has shown that welcoming refugees creates opportunities for economic, civic and social growth. This announcement comes just days before municipalities across the country will celebrate Canada Day, an occasion when many Canadians gather with family and friends to celebrate shared traditions and values – and recognise the contributions of newcomers.
Today, at the International Conference of Metropolis in Ottawa – the largest annual international gathering on migration, integration and diversity – the role of cities in finding solutions to global displacement was highlighted in a UNHCR panel with experts from Montreal, Que., Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Guadalajara, Mexico.
While Buenos Aires assists refugees in having access to local services including hospitals, schools and housing, Guadalajara provides emergency cash grants to help refugee families during their first months and help them find their first job. In Canada, Guelph offers refugees and newcomers free city transportation as part of the “Welcome to Guelph” program. Saskatoon has an action plan to build on its capacity for newcomer settlement and integration, which includes assistance for things such as finding housing. Rimouski has put in place a coordinating group bringing together various key stakeholders to provide quality welcome to refugees and ensure a continuum of services. Montreal, Que., has a newcomer integration support office and has launched an awareness raising campaign to promote the benefits of inclusiveness and diversity in the city.
For more information and interview requests:
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About UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Established in 1950, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. UNHCR works to ensure everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. UNHCR is on the front lines of the world’s major humanitarian crises, including Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar-Bangladesh, and countless other emergencies. unhcr.ca
About Cities #WithRefugees
UNHCR’s #WithRefugees campaign invites cities and local authorities all over the world who are working to promote inclusion, support refugees and bring communities together to sign a statement of solidarity #WithRefugees.