Winnipeg man wants rules relaxed for Syrian refugees
A Winnipeg man is calling on the federal government to go above and beyond to help Syrian refugees come to Canada.
Fadi Toma says he wants Ottawa to consider implementing special measures to welcome those fleeing the country, which has been in a deepening conflict for almost two years.
"It went from very peaceful to very violent very quickly," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
Toma has nine family members in Syria that he would like to bring to Canada. He said they are making plans to flee to Turkey, but he's worried they could end up spending years in a refugee camp.
In the past, Canada has relaxed its rules for refugees in special circumstances, such as in 1999, when refugees came from Kosovo under a special program.
In Winnipeg, Tom Denton of Hospitality House Refugee Ministry says the usual channels for refugees are severely backlogged at this time.
If the situation in Syria does not improve, Denton said it would be appropriate for Canada to make an exception again.
"I'm concerned that there are a lot of people, who have had lives very similar to the kind of life that we live in Canada, totally disrupted by the chaos and the danger," he said.
Federal government officials told CBC News that they're working to re-settle thousands of Iraqi and Iranian refugees currently in Turkey, which will free up resources for those fleeing Syria.
Officials added that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has deemed it too early on in the Syrian conflict to re-settle refugees coming from that country.
"It's not too early on," Toma countered. "I mean, these people are being killed on a daily basis."