Canadian-sponsored Sudanese refugees in Jordan say it's 'very dangerous to go out'
Sponsors want government to speed up processing applications
Sudanese refugees waiting to come to Canada from Jordan are in imminent danger, according to their Canadian sponsors, who are hoping immigration officials process their cases at the same pace as Syrian refugee cases.
A spokesperson from the office of the minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the ministry is trying to come up with options to assist those who may be in danger.
Jordan began deporting Sudanese back to their home country in December, despite concerns by the United Nations and other human rights groups.
Sponsors fear at least one young man invited to come to Canada on a scholarship was deported in mid-December, while other Sudanese refugees in Jordan are being told to lie low.
The refugee sponsorship applications of a dozen Sudanese in Jordan have been accepted to come to Canada but now await the final processing stage, according to the Archdiocese of Toronto, which helps private groups sponsor refugees.
The Archdiocese is working with groups to sponsor nine Sudanese refugees, including a family of five and four individuals.
'Very dangerous to go out'
Two men being sponsored told CBC News that they have been afraid to leave their homes in Jordan out of fear of being swept up by police and deported back to Sudan. CBC News has protected their identities for their safety.
All the people from my house — they've been deported.- Sudanese refugee in Jordan
"All the people from my house — they've been deported," a young Sudanese man being sponsored through the Archdiocese of Toronto told CBC News in a Skype conversation.
He said he fled to a church in the capital city of Amman after three of his housemates were picked up and never heard from again in mid-December.
"Since that day, I'm still at the church. It's very dangerous to go out," he said.
Jordan arresting Sudanese on street
Another young man being sponsored through the Archdiocese said two of his roommates went out for groceries in December and never returned.
"They have been deporting people right off the street," he said.
CBC has previously highlighted the concerns raised by Northgate Ministry in Perth, which is sponsoring a young Christian man who faces a death sentence if he returns to Sudan.
There are also sponsorship applications for Sudanese in Jordan in early stages.
The World University Services of Canada sent sponsorship acceptance letters to three Sudanese in December after a long interview process. The sponsorship program includes scholarships for Canadian university programs.
One of the three has not been heard from, leading organizers to worry he has been deported.
"The students in Jordan are very concerned," said Michelle Manks, who managers the student refugee program at WUSC.
'Before it's too late'
The head of the Office for Refugees with the Archdiocese of Toronto wants the government to prioritize the dozen or so Sudanese cases as emergency matters to be processed immediately — and then transport them to Canada on the same flights as Syrian refugees.
"We would really, really hope that before anything bad happens to these people who suffered a lot — they are legitimate refugees in need of help and they have a realistic qualification to come to Canada — that these people [will be processed] before it's too late," Martin Mark said.
He said Sudanese deported from Jordan are in imminent danger.
"We are scared for the deportees, who will be thought of as enemies of the state, and we have no information about the hundreds that have been deported. They could be detained, tortured or disappeared. We don't know," he said.
Camille Edwards, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister John McCallum, told CBC in an email ministry staff are looking into the matter and "trying to come up with options on how we can help."
"The refugees identified are at different stages in their processing, and they will need to satisfy medical and security standards," Edwards said.
The United Nations refugee agency has asked the Jordanian government to stop deporting Sudanese nationals, saying in a media release that "asylum seekers risk possible persecution and that deportations would violate international law."
The deportation of Sudanese from Jordan began in response to a protest camp of Sudanese refugees in front of the United Nations offices in Amman.