Canada has said it will welcome 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan. But Canadians hoping to sponsor some of them will wait until the government's plans become clear.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday that there would be an early federal election this fall, his speech, like all party leaders' campaign launch speeches, began with another topic: the sudden takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. Image
Credit ... Victor J. Blue for Hfrance.fr
[Read: Trudeau calls for early elections in Canada ]
The fall of Kabul may have come faster than many anticipated,but it was far from unexpected. Just two days before Mr. Trudeau asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament to hold the September 20 election, his government said it would welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees.
[Read: Canada promises refuge for 20,000 Afghans as nations scramble to evacuate. ]
For a bit of perspective: then from Mr. Trudeau's first refugee surge, 39,636 Syrian refugees arrived in Canada from November 4, 2015 to the end of 2016.
Although the Conservatives' reluctance to bring Quickly Syrians in Canada played a part in the 2015 campaign, there is no partisan twist this time around. In the first week of the campaign, all of the major party leaders said they supported the effort and pledged to continue to do so if they were to oust Mr. Trudeau from power.
All the people with whom I havei spoke in the refugee as The resistance community expects that, as we have seen with new Syrian arrivals, large numbers of Canadians will come together to privately sponsor large numbers of Afghan refugees.
Catherine Rodd, a spokesperson for the United Church of Canada, said that even without being asked, about 60 of her congregations indicated they wanted to privately sponsor Afghan refugees. Private sponsorships through this church have brought in thousands of Syrians.
But before anyone starts to prepare apartments and organize the school, the Afghans, whose lives may be in danger, have yet to leave Afghanistan. On Friday afternoon, Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, said that two huge transport planesof the Royal Canadian Air Force were airlifting refugees from Kabul.
The rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan makes it unclear how many such flights will be possible, although Mr. Mendicino said the government is committed to maintaining "these flights for as long as possible." (You can find The Times coverage of Afghanistan, including a live briefing, here. )
Janet Dench, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, summarized her Meeting this week withrefugee officials from Afghanistan when she said, “They haven't made a lot of pretty basic decisions about this yet. "
And there is a long list of decisions to be made. Right now, Dench said, no one knows whether the 20,000 refugees will be people who are currently fleeing or people who have already fled Afghanistan but are stuck in refugee camps elsewhere.The Trudeau government must decide whether it will follow the Syrian precedent of giving up In Quebec, which has
Importantly, no one has yet said how many of the 20,000 refugees will be privately sponsored rather than government resettled. Image A military plane taking off in Kabul. Credit ... Jim Huylebroek for Hfrance.fr Ms Dench said it was likely that there would be a role for private sponsors again. But she and others have warned that unless policies change, these sponsors will face a heavier bureaucratic burden this time around, including "explaining exactly what they have in place for the people who are coming in.
Taliban takeover in Afghanistan ›
unique powers over immigration , it seems that private sponsors will play no role. Flore Bouchon, the press secretary to the Minister of Immigration and International Relations, said the province had temporarily suspended private sponsorships by organizations, and that the deadline had passed for this year for applications from groups of two to five people. She said the province is committed to receiving Afghans, but that they “will be helped by the government.” Understanding the pricontrol of the Taliban in Afghanistan
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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid unrest which followed the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Learn more about their origin story and their record as leaders .
Who are the Taliban leaders? These are top Taliban leaders , men who have spent years on the run, in hiding, in prison and dodging American drones. Little is known about them or how they plan to rule, including whether they will be as tolerant as they claim.
How the Taliban gain control ? See how the Taliban have regained power in Afghanistan in a few months, and find out howent their strategy enabled them to do this.
What happened to Afghan women? The last time the Taliban have been in power, they have banned women and girls from most jobs or going to school. Afghan women have made a lot of progress since the Taliban were overthrown, but now they fear losing ground . Taliban officials are trying to reassure women that things will be different, but there are signs that, at least in some areas, they have started to re-impose the old order.
What does their victory mean for terrorist groups? The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago in response to terrorism, and many fear that Al Qaeda and others radical groups will find refuge there again . Another problem is also at stake. Karen Cocq, coordinatore from the campaign to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told me that there are already Afghans whose asylum claims have been refused or whose immigration status is not properly documented for other reasons. In most cases, she said, these people appear to have a legitimate claim but have been turned down for arbitrary reasons, often involving red tape. The current crisis, said Ms. Cocq, means that it is now necessary to find a way for them to remain in Canada.
“Arbitrary administrative demands and treatment requirements do not adequately recognize the conditions where the people and the realities of people who are fleeing conflict and violence find themselves, ”she said.
Canada, of course, has played a major
role in the 20 years of NATO against the Taliban and in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, an effort that many seemnot having been swept away. Its cost was terrible. Of the 40,000 soldiers who served in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have died. Among the other dead in Canada were seven civilians, including a diplomat, four aid workers, a government contractor and a journalist. Thousands of soldiers returned home with physical and mental injuries, and many of them are still recovering. Roger Cohen, a former Opinion columnist for the Times who joined the news side, wrote an
analysis on how and why the mission went so badly.
[Read: For America and Afghanistan, the post-September 11 era ends painfully ] Trans Canada
Image More than 20 people died when this church collapsed during the earthquake in Haiti. Credit ... Adriana Zehbrauskas for Hfrance.fr
- Afghanistan doesisn't the only humanitarian crisis that worries Canadians. The second time in just over a decade, and shortly after a presidential assassination plunged the country into often violent political turmoil, a major earthquake struck Haiti. Then a violent tropical storm arrived. We've
prepared an overview , and you can find links to our coverage from there.
"doo-doo-doo" of the Montreal metro, the three-note ditty from Vancouver's SkyTrain and the Toronto Transit Commission's 'Soothing Arpeggios Down' all appear in a fun multimedia feature to the melodies used by subways around the world integer to warn of the impending closing of the doors.
- In a guest essay for Opinion, Shikha Dalmia, visiting scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, writes that
Canada can show in the United States a way to get outdeclining population.
- Bill Davis, who
while reshaping Ontario as longtime premier, has died at the age of 92.
- The International Real Estate feature takes a look at a title
sprawling log home near Calgary.
Native of Windsor, Ontario , Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported on Canada for The Hfrance.fr for 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.
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