Canada to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by end of February

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Toronto, Nov 25: Canada's new Liberal government has said it will resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year and another 15,000 by the end of February.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had wanted to resettle 25,000 refugees in Canada by December 31 but faced some pushback following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Syria migrants

Immigration and Refugee Minister John McCallum said they wanted to get it done fast but also do it right so they are taking a little bit more time to process and resettle the refugees.

The government said health and security screening will take place overseas and once that's complete, refugees will be flown to Toronto and Montreal, largely on chartered aircraft. Military aircraft will assist if needed. "We will welcome them with a smile," McCallum said.

"This is a wonderful humanitarian gesture by all Canadians."

Tuesday's announcement could raise alarm in the US, where many Republican governors have said they don't want any Syrian refugees.

The US plans to take 10,000 over the next year. Germany saw 758,000 refugees and other migrants arrive between January and October. Sweden is expecting around 200,000 this year.

Canada will be working closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency which will be contacting some refugees by text message to ask if they want to come to Canada.

Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are being targeted. McCallum said they will choose the most vulnerable whatever the religion might be. "We want to make sure there is no discrimination," Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said military barracks are being prepared only as a precaution if temporary accommodations are needed. The government said it will spend (USD510 million) over six years on the resettlement effort.

"We are pleased that Trudeau has today listened to Canadians and abandoned a timeline that was not workable," federal Conservative lawmaker Michelle Rempel said.

More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since the conflict began in 2011. Canada has long prided itself on opening its doors to asylum seekers.

In times of crisis in decades past, Canada resettled refugees quickly and in large numbers. It airlifted more than 5,000 people from Kosovo in the late 1990s, more than 5,000 from Uganda in 1972 and resettled 60,000 Vietnamese in 1979-80. More than 1.2 million refugees have arrived in Canada since World War II.

AP

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