Manitoba

Manitoba to take 2K Syrian refugees over next 43 days

​Manitoba will take in up to 2,000 Syrian refugees over the next 43 days, part of the federal government’s promise to settle 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.

Eyad Alsaleh arrived with his family on Wednesday after spending 2 years in refugee camp

​Manitoba will take in up to 2,000 Syrian refugees over the next 43 days, part of the federal government’s promise to settle 25,000 refugees by the end of the year. 2:26

Manitoba will take in up to 2,000 Syrian refugees over the next 43 days, part of the federal government's promise to settle 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.

To deal with the influx of people, provincial officials have set up a command centre to co-ordinate resources.

"The time frame is a challenge ... Manitobans have always stepped up, and we know they are doing that now. So that part of it, we know we can depend on," said Ben Rempel, the assistant deputy minister for Manitoba Labour and Immigration.

They're already working with community organizations who specialize in resettlement to help determine what resources will be needed.

Eyad Alsaleh and his family arrived in Winnipeg earlier this week. Alsaleh and his wife, both pharmacists, spent the last two years living in a refugee camp in Jordan with their children after they had fled Syria. (CBC)
"It's exciting, but it's also going to be very challenging," said Carlos Vialard, the director of housing at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba. "Our minds are racing right now in terms of how we respond, not only as an organization, but how does Manitoba respond to this?"

On Wednesday, 15 Syrian refugees arrived at Winnipeg's airport – none are part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 25,000 promise.

Eyad Alsaleh and his family were among them.

Alsaleh and his wife are both pharmacists and spent the last two years living in a refugee camp in Jordan with their children after they fled Syria.

"It's difficult feeling to be a refugee," said Alsaleh. "When you lose your home and wake up in another home. It's difficult feeling."

For the next month, his family will live in a one-room apartment.

"It's difficult for a family to live in one room, but when you compare yourself to the people who are killed in Syria or arrested in Syria, you think you are OK," he said.

Fetheyia Abdela is a settlement counsellor at Welcome House and is helping the family get settled.

She came to Canada 20 years ago, but she remembers it vividly.

"It's very hard – very hard. I came in the middle of winter in January, and I didn't want to go outside at all," she said, laughing.

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