Manitoba's Syrian community demands changes to Canada's refugee process

Members of Manitoba's Syrian community are urging the Canadian government to allow more refugees into the country, especially in light of the drowning deaths of two boys and their mother who were trying to come to Canada as refugees.

Drowning death of Alan Kurdi, 3, has drawn worldwide attention to Syrian refugee crisis

Ameen Al Jundi of the Syrian Assembly of Manitoba says the federal government should reduce the amount of paperwork that refugees are required to complete in order to speed up the process and bring more people to Canada safely. (CBC)

Members of Manitoba's Syrian community are urging the Canadian government to allow more refugees into the country, especially in light of the recent drowning deaths of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, his brother and mother.

The Syrian Assembly of Manitoba is demanding change from the federal government after images surfaced on Wednesday of the toddler's body washed up on a Turkish beach.

The Kurdi family was fleeing the civil war in Syria and had sought refugee status in Canada, according to the boy's aunt, Tima Kurdi, who lives in British Columbia.

"Is that the way we're helping them, by asking them to wait and wait? By asking them, actually, to die, to find another way to die?" Ameen Al Jundi, who speaks for the Syrian Assembly of Manitoba, told CBC News on Thursday.

"This is what happened with [this] family. They died. And when I heard that they were trying to come to Canada, I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

Alan Kurdi, left, and his older brother, Galib, seen in an undated family photo, drowned along with their mother while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece by boat. The family was fleeing the war in Syria. (Tima Kurdi/Canadian Press)
Alan Kurdi had drowned along with his brother, Galib, 5, and their mother, Reham Kurdi, in a case that has drawn worldwide attention to the Syrian refugee crisis.

The boys' father has said his sons "slipped away" from his hands after their rowboat capsized while making a dangerous crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos with several other refugees.

Before the fatal crossing, the family had been living in Turkey as refugees after fleeing war in their hometown of Kobani, Syria, said Tima Kurdi.

Al Jundi said the federal government should reduce the amount of paperwork that refugees are required to complete, in order to speed up the process and bring more people to Canada safely.

"I am not sure what is stopping the Canadian government from bringing those refugees to Canada. Lots and lots of families with only kids," he said.

MCC expects influx of calls

Meanwhile, Mennonite Central Committee, a Winnipeg-based relief agency, is expecting a flood of calls to help bring more Syrian refugees to Canada.

Migration and resettlement co-ordinator Arisnel Mesidor expects more requests from Syrian-Canadians to help their family members immigrate due to the new light being shone on the crisis.

He said the problem is, someone has to be willing to pay for them to come.

"The difficulties is in finding sponsors. So, who will work with MCC to pay the costs to bring the Syrian refugees to Canada?" said Mesidor.

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