Canada and UAE Sign Historic Partnership to Secure Safe Passage for Afghan Refugees

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In a landmark development, Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have come together to ensure the safe passage and resettlement of Afghan refugees fleeing the clutches of the Taliban. Under a new international agreement, Canada will undertake the responsibility of resettling up to 1,000 Afghan nationals who were evacuated from Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul and are currently seeking refuge in the UAE.

The partnership between Canada and the UAE has already borne fruit, with three flights carrying over 300 Afghan refugees each arriving in Canada last year. These initial efforts served as a testament to the commitment of both nations to address the urgent plight of vulnerable Afghans.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser expressed his gratitude for the support of the UAE, acknowledging that the challenge of providing safe passage from Afghanistan posed a unique humanitarian hurdle for Canada. He highlighted the significance of partnerships like this in achieving success and emphasized Canada’s unwavering commitment to resettling at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans.

The first charter flight under the newly established Canada-UAE partnership landed in Toronto on May 19, carrying 317 Afghan nationals. With over 650 Afghans already welcomed through this collaboration, plans are in place for their settlement across 15 communities in Canada. Ottawa has made a firm commitment to welcome a minimum of 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of this year, as part of its ongoing humanitarian resettlement program.

Canada’s approach to resettlement prioritizes the most vulnerable individuals among the Afghan population, including women leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted and religious minorities, 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, and journalists. This targeted approach aims to provide tailored support to those who face the greatest risks and challenges.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has taken proactive measures to facilitate the arrival of Afghan refugees. These initiatives stem from Canada’s recognition of the vital assistance provided by Afghans during its combat and peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan spanning two decades. The IRCC has introduced special programs and measures to streamline the sponsorship process, allowing groups of five and community sponsors to support Afghan refugees without requiring a refugee status determination document.

António Vitorino, the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), lauded Canada’s dedication to ensuring the safe and dignified resettlement of Afghan refugees. The IOM, with its 70-year history of supporting refugees worldwide, expressed pride in contributing to Canada’s efforts to provide a new home for tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans.

Since their arrival, Afghan refugees have been embraced by over 170 communities across Canada. A significant proportion of the refugees accepted into Canada are those who assisted the country, including participants in the Special Immigration Measures (SIMs) program, which accounts for 18,000 spaces for Afghan nationals and their families. Furthermore, Canada is extending its welcome to approximately 5,000 extended family members of Afghan interpreters who previously arrived in the country.

Upon reaching Canadian soil, Afghan refugees receive comprehensive support. They benefit from a minimum of 12 months of income support under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) and gain access to settlement services, including language training and the Interim Federal Health Program for medical coverage.

The situation in Afghanistan remains dire, with an estimated 3.5 million displaced Afghans, of which approximately 78% are women and children. Disturbingly, it is estimated that one million children are at risk of starvation. In light of these alarming statistics, the collective efforts of nations like Canada and the UAE serve as a glimmer of hope for the Afghan people, offering them the chance to rebuild their lives in safety.

As the international community grapples with the complex task of addressing the Afghan refugee crisis, the collaboration between Canada and the UAE stands as a shining example of countries coming together to protect and support those in desperate need. Through this agreement, Canada and the UAE demonstrate the power of cooperation, compassion, and humanity in the face of adversity.

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