Syrian community members in Manitoba say they’re grateful for any Syrian refugees the Canadian government allows into the country, even if single men won’t be allowed in at this time.
The federal government is expected to announce on Tuesday that it will limit those who are accepted to Canada to women, children and families.
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“It’s still a great step and highly appreciated,” Amaen Al Jundi, who speaks for the Syrian Assembly of Manitoba, said Monday.
“Even if they focus only on families or single moms with kids or orphans, that’s still fine. That is still a great step that is being taken by the Canadian government.”
Al Jundi added that orphans and single mothers with children are “the ones in the most need.”
Sources have told CBC News that to deal with some concerns about security, unaccompanied men seeking asylum will not be part of the federal refugee plan.
Al Jundi said not allowing unaccompanied Syrian men into the country should help address anyone’s security concerns.
“I understand where they come from. However, when the government says that we’re going to bring families only … things are going to be fine,” he said.
Manitoba has already welcomed about 1,000 refugees so far this year, but Premier Greg Selinger has said the province will welcome an additional 2,000 refugees.
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Provincial government officials are working with front-line organizations that work with refugees to ensure those who arrive in Manitoba have the support they need.
‘Help the most vulnerable first’
Robert Vineberg, a research fellow at the Canada West Foundation who has had decades of immigration experience with the federal government, said it’s not the first time immigration into Canada has been focused on families or children.
“During the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis, the policy was to help the most vulnerable first and that was families and young children,” said Vineberg. “The bulk of the effort went towards identifying family groups and that included the extended family.”
He said many single male refugees from other regions are allowed into Canada, but most “have been in camps for 12 months, 18 months or longer.”
“We often know quite a bit about the individuals behaviour over time and that helps make the selection decision,” he said.
Vineberg said the major issue will be housing and logistics.
“Research everywhere has shown that the more newcomers feel they are welcome and can participate in civil society, the political process and be successful economically, the fewer problems you will have with immigrants,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track.”