Newcomer centre has no more room for border-crossing refugees
Welcome Place staff worry they'll run out of resources if asylum-seekers keep pouring into Manitoba from U.S.
A Winnipeg centre that welcomes and houses newcomers is putting out a public call for help after getting another surge of asylum-seekers over the weekend.
Welcome Place, a temporary home for newcomers in Winnipeg, is full and has no more rooms for refugee claimants who may still be coming to the city Sunday.
- 21 asylum seekers crossed into Manitoba Saturday: reeve
- 22 refugees entered Manitoba near Emerson border over the weekend
- Many Somalis in Minnesota 'willing to take the risk' to sneak into Canada
"That's a big concern," said Rita Chahal, the executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council.
At least 21 asylum-seekers were caught by RCMP walking into Manitoba during the wee hours Saturday morning. Among them was a family with a baby and toddler, Chahal said.
"When I held that two-year-old in my arms and the six-month-old, I thought, 'My goodness, what if something were to happen to these folks, you know, in this frigid weather?' And they walked for six hours, this family. It is really heartbreaking."
The surge is the latest in a trend of refugee claimants fleeing on foot to Manitoba from the United States. Chahal said she's worried what will happen if more asylum seekers show up at Welcome Place.
- 'Informal' network helping refuge seekers get to Manitoba, U.S. officials say
- Somali asylum seekers en route to Canada caught, turned back by U.S. border officials
"The numbers, if they keep growing, I don't have the financial resources to hire more staff," she said Sunday.
Chahal said the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council could use more donations or help from other agencies to find places for refugees to stay temporarily.
She previously told CBC she's had to reassign the centre's few staff away from other programming, such as helping refugees find lawyers, permanent housing and jobs, to keep up with the influx of claims being filed.
Hospitality House, another Winnipeg home that takes in sponsored refugees, said Sunday it can't help Welcome Place because it also doesn't have room for any more people.
"There is no possibility," said Karin Gordon, who added the home doesn't normally take in non-sponsored refugees and is currently under renovations.
Gordon said board members are meeting this week to see if they can support Welcome Place if another surge of people arrives.