Canada remains committed to taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees, but only 10,000 of them by year’s end, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government said on Tuesday.
The Liberal administration, which had pledged to take in the full number of refugees from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon this year, said 15,000 would now arrive in the first two months of next year.
The delay was announced as the deadly Paris attacks stir fears in Europe and North America that militants could seek to blend in with refugees to strike later.
Recent polls showed 54 percent of Canadians support slowing down the operation to host refugees if it meant avoiding possible security lapses.
“Canadians have said do this right and if it takes a little longer to do it, then take the time,” Canadian Minister of Immigration John McCallum told a press conference. “And so essentially this is what we are going to be doing.”
Officials said communities across Canada where the refugees will be resettled also need more time to prepare for their arrival, McCallum said.
“We want them to have a roof over their head,” he said. “We want them to have the right supports for language training and for all the other things that they need to begin their life here in Canada, and it takes a bit of time to put all of that in place.”
Under the plan, all 25,000 refugees would be identified by Dec. 31 from lists prepared by the UN refugee agency and the government of Turkey, and invited to apply for relocation to Canada.
A text message will direct them to Canadian visa offices in Amman, in Beirut and one in Turkey where 500 government staff have been dispatched to process applications.
Officials said only whole families, women in vulnerable position or single men who are gay — therefore deemed at risk of persecution — or accompanied by parents as part of a family will be accepted. Other single males old enough for military service would be turned away.
Trudeau’s government has sought to reassure the White House over the safety aspect of its plans, as US President Barack Obama faces a barrage of opposition to his own scheme to resettle 10,000 refugees in the coming year.
“We will not compromise the quality of the security work that must get done,” Canadian Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said.
“Safety and security have always been at the very top of our priority list,” he said.
The first refugee flight is expected to take off early next month, but a precise date has not yet been set.
“We have a responsibility to significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war a safe haven in Canada,” Trudeau said in a statement. “The resettling of vulnerable refugees is a clear demonstration of this.”
Before boarding chartered flights to Toronto or Montreal, the refugees would undergo security checks, which include the verification of documents, iris scans, fingerprinting and photographing, among other measures. They will also receive a medical examination.
Canadian Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan said Canadian military transports also stand ready to assist in the massive airlift.
Upon arrival in Canada, most of the refugees are expected to transit straight through to the 36 communities that have offered to sponsor them. The Canadian military is making 6,000 beds available on its bases to temporarily accommodate others.
The cost of the operation could reach up to C$678 million (US$509.8 million) over six years, officials said.
Canada takes in an average of 250,000 refugees from around the world each year.
The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 4 million Syrians have fled the civil war ravaging their country, which has killed more than 250,000 people.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures