The Syrian refugee crisis has left more than four million people desperately seeking safety. It is a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions, one which Canada has a responsibility to act on as quickly as possible.
Response to the Syrian refugee crisis is evolving quickly at all levels of government in Canada and internationally. As you will know, on November 25th, the federal government announced further details of its plans to bring 25,000 government-sponsored and 10,000 privately-sponsored Syrian refugees to Canada.
The target is to have 25,000 refugees in Canada by the end of February 2016, and 35,000 by December 31, 2016. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum has described this effort as a “national project for all Canadians.” For more information on the federal government’s plan, visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/index.asp
We believe that the outpouring of support over the Syrian refugee crisis has been powerful and inspiring. Through our work with the Guelph Wellington Local Immigration Partnerhip (GWLIP) we are helping to develop a more coordinated response for Guelph-Wellington.
What we know:
Estimated number of refugees: Guelph and Wellington are poised to accept between 62 and 75 refugee families through private sponsorship. This would be approximately between 300 and 400 Privately Sponsored Refugees.
Government Assisted Refugees: Guelph and Wellington are not currently designated receiving communities for Government Assisted Refugees (a classification of refugees different than privately sponsored), so we are not expecting GARs to come to our community directly. Although, there may be some secondary migration of GARs from places like Kitchener and Hamilton that could increase the above estimates.
Timing: The GWLIP has been in touch with the Federal Government around timing, but it is not clear at this point when Privately Sponsored Refugees would arrive in Guelph, but the expectation is that most would arrive within a year of each other. Under the previous government, private sponsorship applications were taking an average of 16 months from submission to arrival of the family. This timeline is expected to be significantly shorter under the new approach.
As per United Way’s charitable purpose, we cannot provide funds directly to individuals and families in need. We can, however, engage in raising funds and distributing said funds to other registered charities who are assisting with the settlement of the refugees. We are committed to supporting our funded agencies, and will continue to work closely with our community partners to watch for gaps in need to ensure that our community is supported. United Way Centraide Canada (UWCC) is also developing a plan of action to support local UWCs and to provide leadership at the national and international level.
If you are interested in volunteering or supporting the cause, here are some further links to assist you in directing your efforts:
• Donations of clothing, toys, household items, furniture are being directed to Salvation Army @ 210 Victoria Road South from Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.
• The Refugee Sponsorship Forum has set up a centralized form for those wanting to volunteer their time, or offer temporary housing, to support sponsored refugee families specifically: http://www.guelphrefugeeforum.com/home/ Volunteers will be coordinated through the Refugee Sponsorship Forum and the Muslim Society of Guelph.
• Questions about services available in Guelph-Wellington can be directed to Immigrant Services of Guelph Wellington – http://www.is-gw.ca/welcoming-refugees