By: Aron Anthonymuttu
The UN’s refugee agency hit a milestone of five million registered refugees fleeing Syria, a year after a high-level meeting on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meeting asked participating countries agree to help resettle 500,000 refugees by 2018 although only half of that number have found placements.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that if the U.N. hopes to reach their goal by 2018, participating nations need to gain momentum.
“We still have a long road to travel in expanding resettlement and the number and range of complementary pathways available for refugees,” Grandi said in a press release, “To meet this challenge, we not only need additional places, but also need to accelerate the implementation of existing pledges.”
Many Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. Turkey has received close to 3 million refugees. Along with Turkey, many refugees have also found asylum in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt.
Canada has had a major role in welcoming Syrian refugees. As of Jan. 29, more than 40 thousand have arrived in Canada.
Nancy Caron, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, told Humber News that 2017 will mark one of the highest numbers of refugees in Canada’s history.
“While our commitments were ambitious, they reflect Canada’s long standing tradition of offering protection to those who need it.” Caron said in an e-mail, “Aside from Syrian resettlement efforts, Canada has several multi-year refugee commitments underway including for Congolese, Eritrean, and Colombians, in addition to resettlement of individuals from other nationalities identified by the UNHCR and private sponsors in Canada.”
In September, the United Nations General Assembly signed the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The declaration is a commitment to help resettled refugees integrate into their new home.
America’s proposed immigration ban, that would stop immigration from seven countries including Syria, hinders the UNHCR’s goal of resettling 250,000 refugees.
Despite this, Grandi says UNHCR is still working around this issue in order to reach their target.
“For this reason, UNHCR will continue its work with States to increase the number of resettlement places and the number and range of pathways to protection that complement resettlement.” Grandi said, “As many States know from first-hand experience, resettlement not only gives refugees the opportunity to re-build their lives, but also enriches the communities that welcome them.”