This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Identifying Refugee Priorities

"Political staff are never involved in approving refugee applications. Such decisions are made by officials in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper

A negative report slamming the Conservative government on refugee intake appeared in the national newspaper the Globe and Mail purporting to find the Prime Minister's Office guilty of interference in the process whereby Syrian refugees are being admitted to Canada. According to the thesis advanced in the report the PMO ordered a temporary weeks-long halt to the processing of Syrian refugee applications received from the United Nations.

Canada, it should be noted, only accepts UN-referred refugees through the federal refugee acceptance program administered by Citizenship and Immigration. Whereas privately sponsored groups committing to bringing in refugees bypass UN-referred candidates. The government would prefer to focus on threatened Syrian minority groups, Druze, Kurds, Christians. The UN makes no such distinctions, considering all refugees to be equally deserving of status.

It has not been completely clear whether the UN conducts a security review of its refugee cases. Files are assigned to Canada, however, based on criteria that disregards the Canadian government's stated preference to receive religious minorities. And since an estimated 90 percent of refugees emanating from Syria are Muslim they also represent the majority of those referred by the UN to Canada.

Given the threat of jihadi terrorist infiltration to Western countries, the government ordered an audit of Syrian refugees referred by the UN and accepted by Canada with a goal to ensure "the selection of the most vulnerable people [while] keeping our country safe and secure", which is precisely what any responsible government would be concerned with.

"Belonging to a minority doesn't make you necessarily vulnerable. The Yazidi or Kurdish or Christian [minority] ... who have fled together, they live in a camp. They live the life of a refugee. But you don't have a specific vulnerability there", stated UNHCR representative to Canada Furio de Angelis. A statement which experience appears to refute, through reports coming out of official sources stating that the minority groups are indeed threatened by Sunni Syrians in those same camps.

Of the 350 Syrian refugees referred by the UN and admitted into Canada between January and August, about 20, representing six percent of the total, were in the category of vulnerable religious or ethnic minorities. In contrast to the nearly 90 percent of the 600 privately-sponsored Syrians brought into Canada by groups other than the government, that fit the description of vulnerable minorities.

De Angelis did confirm that security screening is most often undertaken by any country which has accepted refugees, and not by the UN High Commission for Refugees. It is the minority Muslim groups such as Shias, Alawis and Ismailis, representing 15 percent of the Syrian population, along with Christians and a small number of Jews representing ten percent of the Syrian population who obviously should first require consideration for refugee acceptance.

The simple fact is that the bulk of those presenting as refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim world of conflict seeking haven elsewhere, are young men. A much smaller percentage of the refugees are women and children and older family men with responsibilities to their families. It is they also who quite obviously should be given prior consideration.

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