GENEVA, Dec 11 (UNHCR) – The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed news of the arrival in Canada last night of the first group of Syrian refugees under a recently announced humanitarian programme.
The programme will provide a new life in Canada for 25,000 Syrian refugees, the first 163 of whom arrived in Toronto from Lebanon by Royal Canadian Air Force jet on Thursday (December 10).
Canada has acted swiftly to implement this initiative, which was announced in late November. UNHCR is continuing to work with the Canadian authorities in identifying vulnerable Syrians for settlement in Canada. The refugees’ welcome to Canada will be underpinned by its well-recognised community integration programmes.
“The Canadian programmes are a practical expression of support to Syrian refugees and demonstration of solidarity to those countries in the region hosting more than four million Syrian refugees,” UN spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva.
“UNHCR encourages other states to engage in these programmes. They provide critical support for refugees currently hosted in countries neighbouring Syria,” Edwards said.
To date some 30 countries have pledged a total of more than 160,000 places for Syrians under resettlement and other humanitarian admissions schemes.
The already difficult situation for Syrian refugees continues to deteriorate in countries neighbouring Syria, with increasing numbers living below national poverty lines.
UNHCR estimates 10 per cent of the 4.1 million registered refugees in countries neighbouring Syria are vulnerable and are in need of resettlement or humanitarian admission to a third country.