Subject: GAR Bulletin--Special Edition: Syrian Refugee Report #2

November 13,2015
In an effort to ensure information about Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis is provided in a timely manner, ISSofBC will be distributing periodic special-edition GAR Bulletins on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The intention of these reports is to ensure groups providing support to refugees in British Columbia receive up-to-date information to facilitate planning and coordination.
Information for this bulletin was collated from:
  • a conference call among refugee serving agencies across Canada November 13 with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada on the current response and potential future directions

Conference Call

Deborah Tunis – Syrian Refugee Coordinator, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada

  • Although the exact timing is uncertain, it is anticipated the Government’s plans will be outlined in a formal announcement during the week of November 16;
  • The Government Operations Centre (GOC) is providing assistance and oversight with this unprecedented humanitarian operation, ensuring consideration to all aspects of the operation from identifying refugees through settlement services. They are currently working on developing a strategic plan which will be in place before the announcement is made;
  • A detailed engagement strategy is being developed, and both Minister McCallum and his office, as well as Prime Minister Trudeau are continuing to connect with key stakeholders across the country;
  • There are plans for an invitation-only working meeting to be held November 28 and 29 in Toronto to develop detailed implementation plan;
  • Prime Minster Trudeau and Minister McCallum have spoken of a Summit to be held – likely before Parliament returns on December – involving Provincial and Municipal elected officials;
  • The International Rescue Commitee (IRC) has heard ‘loud and clear’ that RAP and settlement providers across the country are ‘ready and able to take on this challenge’ but that current funding is inadequate to meet the anticipated demand. The proposal before Cabinet includes additional monies for (re)settlement support;
  • There is a desire to ensure the commitment and support from private sponsors continues;
  • Syrian refugees landed before the end of the year will be a mixture of Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) and Government Assisted Refugees (GARs);
  • Plans being formulated are according to a five phase process: (1) Identification of Refugees (eg through discussions with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), etc), (2) Oversees Processing (may be a light touch), (3) Transportation to Canada, (4) Processing in Canada (eg determining how much of the information will be gathered in Canada as opposed to overseas), and (5) Resettlement, Settlement and Integration
  • The amount of processing done overseas will influence whether these individuals arrive as Permanent Residents (all information processed overseas) or Temporary Residents (information collected both overseas and in Canada). If Temporary Residents – information will be processed asap (likely within hours of arrival) to ensure individuals are eligible for programs, etc.
  • The first Syrian refugees to arrive under this humanitarian operation will likely arrive in early December, though this will not be clear until the formal announcement is made.

ISSofBC Update

  • ISSofBC staff have launched a public call for action to help in locating permanent housing options, volunteers, employment leads and financial contributions for the expected arrival of 3,000 Syrian refugees to BC.  More information can be found at www.issbc.org/refugee-crisis
  • ISSofBC is leading the Metro Vancouver Planning Response (Reception Phase) to the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Movement November 16.
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