Syrian refugees would be welcomed in Calgary, advocate predicts

The head of a local immigration group says Canada should take in more refugees fleeing violence in Syria — and Calgarians are ready to help.

Canada being urged to take in 10,000 displaced civilians as fighting intensifies

Syrian Kurdish refugee children, who fled Kobani with their families, stand outside their tent at a refugee camp in Suruc on the Turkey-Syria border Oct. 11. Kobani and its surrounding areas has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September. The onslaught has forced more than 200,000 people to flee across the border into Turkey. (Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press)

The head of a local immigration group says Canada should take in more refugees fleeing violence in Syria — and Calgarians are ready to help. 

The UN High Commission for Refugees says countries around the world need to help by accepting 100,000 Syrians.

Canada’s share should be 10,000 refugees by 2016, according the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance.

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society executive director Fariborz Birjandian says Canada been a world leader in helping refugees, and Calgarians are good at helping newcomers to the country get settled in.

“Every time we have actually asked for help for refugees the community has responded very well. So I'm very optimistic about it,” he said.

Calgary generally receives 1,200 to 1,400 refugees per year. “I would say if you would bring another 500 people in the next three to six months, I think Calgary can definitely manage it.”

The UN refugee agency estimates three million people have been displaced by the civil war in Syria.

More than 100,000 Syrian refugees have recently fled into Turkey to escape an advance by ISIS fighters.

Birjandian said he realizes affordable housing is an issue in the city, but the options for the refugees elsewhere are very limited and Calgary communities have rallied in the past to help newcomers.

“I really can't even image, I mean the options for them is very, very limited. They are now escaping and they're going to countries like Lebanon, like Jordan and like Turkey, which is now is becoming even more difficult to cross the border to go there.”

Birjandian says since many of the displaced are religious minorities, escaping to another Islamic country is not ideal.


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