Canada has achieved a remarkable feat by welcoming over 30,000 vulnerable Afghans since August 2021, as part of its humanitarian resettlement program. This program aims to resettle at least 40,000 Afghans by the end of 2023, focusing on the most at-risk groups such as women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals. In this blog article, we will explore the background, challenges and achievements of this program, as well as how Canadians can get involved in supporting the newcomers.
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated rapidly in August 2021, when the Taliban seized control of the country after a 20-year war. Thousands of Afghans who had worked with or supported the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, as well as those who faced persecution or violence under the Taliban regime, were left in danger and in need of protection. Canada responded swiftly by launching several special immigration measures and programs to facilitate the evacuation and resettlement of eligible Afghans and their families.
However, the task was not easy. Canada faced many logistical and security challenges in evacuating Afghans from Kabul airport, which was under attack by terrorists and crowded by desperate people. Canada had to rely on the collaboration and assistance of international partners such as the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and other countries in the region, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration. Canada also had to deal with a complex and evolving situation on the ground, where many Afghans were unable to reach the airport or obtain travel documents.
Despite these difficulties, Canada managed to evacuate over 3,700 Afghans on 17 flights between August 4 and August 26, 2021. Since then, Canada has continued to work with its partners to identify and process more eligible Afghans for resettlement. As of April 12, 2023, Canada has welcomed over 30,000 Afghan refugees under various streams, including those who supported Canada's mission in Afghanistan, family members of former interpreters, privately sponsored refugees and humanitarian refugees. Canada is on track to meet its goal of resettling at least 40,000 Afghans by the end of 2023.
The arrival of Afghan refugees is a testament to Canada's long-standing humanitarian tradition and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Canada has been praised by the international community and civil society for its leadership and generosity in responding to the crisis in Afghanistan. However, Canada's role does not end with welcoming the newcomers. Canada also has a responsibility to help them integrate into their new communities and society.
This is where Canadians can play a vital role. Canadians can support Afghan refugees by volunteering their time, skills or resources; donating money or goods; or sponsoring an Afghan refugee through a group of five or a community sponsor. Canadians can also show their solidarity and compassion by learning more about Afghan culture and history, engaging with Afghan organizations and groups, and reaching out to their Afghan neighbours and friends.
Canada has marked a significant milestone by welcoming over 30,000 vulnerable Afghans, but there is still more work to be done. Canada will continue to pursue every opportunity to bring more Afghans to safety and security in Canada, while also ensuring their successful settlement and integration. Canadians can join this effort by getting involved and showing their support for Afghan refugees. Together, we can make a difference in their lives and enrich our own.