Refugees disappear while waiting for paperwork

The fate of two families sponsored by the Charlottetown Diocese as refugees is unknown, because the sponsoring church group lost touch with them while the Canadian government was processing their paperwork.

Refugees were last heard from in Syrian refugee camp

The fate of two families sponsored by the Charlottetown Diocese as refugees is unknown, because the sponsoring church group lost touch with them while the Canadian government was processing their paperwork.

The Charlottetown Diocese will make another effort to sponsor more families, says refugee sponsorship coordinator Dan Doran. (CBC)

The diocese, which covers all Roman Catholic churches on Prince Edward Island, has been working for several years to privately sponsor three refugee families. All three of those efforts ended in failure.

One of those families ended up moving to Australia, but the church group lost touch with the other two families while waiting for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to approve them.

Diocese refugee sponsorship coordinator Dan Doran, who worked with CIC, said the Canadian government needs to provide more help with private refugee sponsorship. He said refugees sometimes have to wait as long as five years.

"That is very hard to take because refugee camps are not fun places to be in. They're dangerous. You're just herded like cattle in some of these places," said Doran.

"It's extremely hard on people on both ends and we just wish the processing time was quicker."

The three families are originally from Iraq. They had fled to Syria to escape violence there, only to be caught up in the civil war in that country.

The federal government just announced it will accept 1,100 more privately sponsored refugees from Syria. 

Doran wants better communication, so both refugees and sponsors can know how long the process will take, and better systems in place so communication ties are not broken.

The diocese has decided to sponsor three other families.

CBC News has put in a request to speak to Citizenship and Immigration Canada about this issue.

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