Montreal

Burundian woman in Montreal temporarily allowed to stay

A Burundian woman living in Montreal says it’s a “weight off her shoulders” knowing that she does not face immediate deportation to her native country.

CBSA imposes Administrative Deferral of Removals to Burundi for humanitarian reasons

A mother facing deportation says it's a "weight off" her shoulders knowing Canada will not immediately send her back to her native country of Burundi. (CBC)

A Burundian woman living in Montreal says it's a "weight off" her shoulders knowing that she does not face immediate deportation to her native country.

On Thursday, the Canadian government decided to temporarily stop all deportations to Burundi.

"Effective immediately, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has imposed an Administrative Deferral of Removals (ADR) to Burundi," the agency said in a press release, adding that its decision was based on humanitarian grounds.

"As a result of current country conditions, including government instability, rising levels of violence and food insecurity, the CBSA will be able to defer the removal of most Burundian nationals," it read.

Maria (CBC agreed to conceal her identity for her security) is among an estimated 650 people in Canada facing the prospect of having to go back to the East-African nation, where there is increasing political and sectarian violence.

Since the month of April, 200,000 people have fled Burundi and hundreds have been killed.

Awaiting deportation

Maria came to Canada nine years ago as Burundi was emerging from a long civil war.

Her application for refugee status was refused in 2006, but Canada had also suspended deportations to Burundi at that time because of civil strife there.

That ban was lifted in 2009.

Now a single mother of a two-year-old girl, Maria was awaiting the date for her deportation.

She told CBC she's relieved she's not in immediate danger of being sent back.

Advocates applaud

Advocates for refugees applauded the federal government's decision.

"I'm very happy. I am very conscious they are living in enormous stress and anxiety...It's going to be an enormous relief," said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Patrice Nzigamasabo of the Alliance des Burundais du Canada says the situation in Burundi today "is worse than Rwanda prior to 1994 Genocide." (CBC)
Patrice Nzigamasabo of the Alliance des Burundais du Canada said the situation in Burundi today is worse than Rwanda prior to the 1994 Genocide.

"There have been government officials who have been using the same code words that were used in Rwanda in 94, telling people that, `Soon it's going to be time to go to work.' 'Go to work' means killing. And the head of the senate basically said, `We're going to pulverize you.'" Nzigamasabo said.

Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said Canada's decision is a compassionate one.

"This process demonstrates Canada's leadership in addressing humanitarian crises around the world. An Administrative Deferral of Removals is an appropriate, compassionate response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Burundi," said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Advocates for refugees are now calling on Ottawa to speed up the process for Burundians already in Canada to apply for permanent residency.

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