Two-hundred Syrian refugees to be accepted by the federal government as "urgent" cases have yet to arrive in Canada.

Former immigration minister Jason Kenney said last month Canada would accept as many as 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of next year, including 200 "extremely vulnerable, urgent cases."

But Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in Ottawa on Friday none of those initial 200 refugees have yet arrived in Canada.


Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says the first of the Syrian refugees will be re-settled in Canada in the 'coming months.' (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

"That pledge remains," Alexander told reporters. "It's in response to a very urgent appeal from the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and we've been very generous, as we always are in Canada, with regard to refugee appeals."

Alexander said the 200 refugees will be re-settled "in the coming months."

"They're not here. That resettlement will begin in the last months of this year and it will continue through 2014."

The remaining 1,100 spots will be filled through private sponsorship rather than government resettlement.

Alexander said Canada is supporting a larger refugee response effort that involves tens of thousands of refugees in countries surrounding Syria and Iran, including Jordan and Turkey.

"We continue to be one of the principal contributors to the refugee response equation in and around Syria. That involves a limited number of refugees who will be resettled in Canada," Alexander told reporters at an event to mark a new memorial in Ottawa for the victims of state-imposed communism.

"The main focus of response is in the regions themselves, particularly in Jordan."

An alleged chemical weapons attack in northern Syria this week that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds injured has brought increased calls for international intervention in the two-year-old civil war. 

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday Canada wants to ensure it has all the facts before deciding how to respond and said Canada supports the UN's efforts to find out what happened.

Baird said a political solution remains the best way to end the conflict in Syria.

with files from The Canadian Press