Canada has agreed to resettle another 10,000 Syrian and 3,000 Iraqi refugees over the next three years in response to a UN plea for help, the immigration minister announced on Wednesday.
This meets 10 per cent of the latest UN refugee agency's appeal for help resettling people fleeing violence in the two countries. According to a report released earlier by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of Syrian refugees has outstripped Afghans as the largest displaced population in need of protection.
"Syrians and Iraqis face the worst forms of violence in the world today," said Chris Alexander, the immigration minister, pointing to the Islamic Group's "murderous rampage across Syria and Iraq and (its) systematic killing of anyone who does not adhere to their distorted version of Islam." Millions have been displaced by escalating violence.
Since 2009, Canada has welcomed 20,000 Iraqi refugees. More than 1,000 Syrian refugees have also landed on Canadian shores since the start of a Syrian civil war in 2011. The opposition, however, has criticised the government for being slow to act and for not taking in more refugees from the region.
It comes after Lebanon imposed new restrictions on its borders on Monday to limit the flood of people pouring into the country. For the first time since the two countries’ borders were carved out after the First World War, Syrians will now need a visa to enter Lebanon.
Those already in the country will also find it more difficult to gain employment under the new plans, as the government tries to enforce complicated and expensive legal procedures to obtain work permits.