Windsorites hoping to sponsor Syrian refugees 'helpless' due to government application halt

Windsor residents shared their concerns during a town hall held Tuesday to discuss the plight of Syrian refugees. The Canadian government has welcomed thousands from Syria, but announced that in 2017 there would be a limit of 1,000 new applicants.

Private sponsors want Canada to be ready for more Syrian refugees

Amjad Alhareri came to Canada from Syria in 1997. He wants to bring more families to come to Canada but says he feels "helpless" because of the government cap on private sponsorship applications. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Amjad Alhareri has the money and space to sponsor more refugees from his homeland of Syria, but without permission from the federal government he's "helpless."

The Windsor man came to Canada in 1997. He's already sponsored two families from his war-torn country, but told a group gathered at the Fogolar Furlan Club Tuesday night to discuss the needs of refugees in Windsor, that he wants to do more.

"We feel so helpless, and at the same time, we cannot give up hope," he said. "Some of the families are really in a situation where they cannot go forward and they cannot make a decision. Waiting for this is their last hope."

The Canadian government has welcomed thousands from Syria, but announced that in 2017 the country had reached its limit of 1,000 new applicants under a particular type of private sponsorship.

The town hall meeting was focused on addressing the most pressing issues for Syrian families in Windsor and trying to help those still hoping to come.

Anneke Smit. (Laura DaSilva/CBC)

Anneke Smit is part of a private sponsorship group waiting out a lengthy backlog of refugees who have been approved to make the journey to Canada. She spoke as a panelist during the town hall and said there are many ways Canada can improve the way it deals with such situations.

"It's also about doing things right for the next time, having that the institutions in place and the procedures in place so that the next time, where ever those refugees come from, we step up, we have private sponsors who are still willing to do the job," she said.