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, December 04, 2015

Desperate for Haven?

"[There is] huge enthusiasm -- a great hunger to come to Canada [by Syrian refugees]. ...There are a huge number of people who want to come."
"Look at how many went to Germany -- almost a million! The idea that they don't want to come to Canada is crazy."
Immigration Minister John McCallum, Ottawa

"This doesn't mean people don't like Canada or the Canadian option is not valid. And I would be cautious to infer from this initial reaction that there's no need."
"Due to their culture and society families are very bound together. One family may be a father, mother and children, but they will not take such a drastic decision without consulting the larger family links. And this may take some time and may also need some more reflection in terms of the different options."
"One of the best coping strategies of refugees is to put your eggs in as many baskets as possible. So one family may have ten baskets with one egg each."
"These people are in a desperate situation, but they're not going to die tomorrow, because they've been like this [in refugee camps] for four years. So it's not like you're in a situation of life or death where 24 hours makes a real difference. And it may take one or two months to take a proper decision."
Furio de Angelis, UN High Commission for Refugees' representative in Canada
Syrian children
Syrian children in a classroom at a drop-in centre for Syrian refugees in the town of Saad Nayel, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

The plight of the millions of Syrians who have fled their country as a result of their country's president's response to a civil war of his very own making has moved the sympathy of people globally. It has been well publicized that four million Syrians crossed the borders from Syria into primarily Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to find refuge from the death and destruction that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite Shiite regime has rained down on the heads of his Sunni Syrian civilians.

Those are the external refugees; an additional estimated seven million people have been displaced internally, forced from their towns and villages and cities and suburban areas to find shelter elsewhere in the country. While Europe has been flooded with refugees able to fund dangerous passage overland or by sea through smuggling operations, those with fewer means languish in the refugee camps.

Canada's new government has vowed to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees; a promise that the previous Canadian government had also made but within a longer time-frame. Canadians from all sectors of life have come forward to offer their volunteer assistance, time and funding in the settlement of refugees. Private sponsors have worked overtime to make arrangements to bring in and settle refugees, and the government has allocated 15,000 spots over the private sponsorships of 10,000.

Everyone is feverishly planning to bring in and absorb, help integrate and give support of every conceivable kind to Syrian refugees. Federal immigration officials have been dispatched to the refugee camps to begin the initial process of interviewing potential candidates who have been identified and vetted by the UNHCR. The trouble seems to be that no 'desperate' refugees are beating down doors to try to get into Canada.

Leaving in question just how 'desperate' they are to escape their current situation. The UN has the task of identifying an initial 15,00 deemed most vulnerable among the Syrian refugees to come to Canada, sponsored by the Canadian government. The additional 10,000 will be the responsibility of churches, or family members or charitable groups willing to undertake a pledge to support refugees. As it happens, the UN sent out 41,000 text messages to potential applicants.

Telephone calls as follow-ups to enquire about interest elicited the information that only two-thirds of the phone numbers were operative. And of those, 3,049 only of the 28,000 contacted were interested in an interview with UN officials. Of that pared-down number a mere 1,801, fewer than five percent of those the UN attempted to contact, identified as the 'most vulnerable' claimed to want to come to Canada. And they have been referred to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for screening.

Which leaves the glaring question: if these poor unfortunates are so desperate to find haven and a permanent home with a guaranteed future for their children, why the canny "So one family may have ten baskets with one egg each"?

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