Multicultural council offers info on helping Syrian refugees

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council has launched a new website designed to be a one-stop spot for people who want to volunteer to help Syrian refugees.

New portal should help manage information and map available resources

Five Syrian babies, three of them triplets (L to C), lie in blankets among their relatives as they arrive with other refugees and migrants aboard the passenger ferries Blue Star Patmos and Eleftherios Venizelos from the islands of Lesbos and Chios at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, October 21, 2015. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council has launched a new website designed to be a one-stop spot for people who want to volunteer to help Syrian refugees.

The council represents 13 agencies in the province that serve immigrants and in the last few weeks those agencies have been dealing with an increase in people wanting to volunteer.

"It will help us to engage people at the right time when they're needed, " said Alex LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council. He says agencies that help refugees have paper-based volunteer sign-up procedures and the digital database will help organize information coming in. 

Alex LeBlanc of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council has launched an online page to give New Brunswickers information on how they can help Syrian refugees when they arrive in the province. (CBC)
The web site went live Wednesday morning and the council is hoping it will make it more efficient for people signing up to volunteer.

 "What's happened recently is that we've seen the traffic go up and I guess when, as an example, if you were to see the traffic pressure in downtown Fredericton quadruple, you'd have to look at your traffic solutions. You know, how are we managing intake and make sure people flow through in a timely way. In some cases our members have had more than 300 people contact them in a couple of weeks," he said.

LeBlanc says one of the biggest hurdles is getting the systems in place to manage information and map the resources available for refugees.

"Right now we're not in a crisis mode, we're preparing. We're kind of in the preparation stage. But when folks start to come, we're going to need resources on the turn of a dime." he said.

LeBlanc and others involved in planning for the government-assisted Syrian refugees are meeting Wednesday.

"People are feeling united around this but some of those logistical details are not finalized," he said. "We have all heard so far, the provincial government is prepared to accept up to 15-hundred and our members, the groups that are going to be on the ground have reinforced 'We can do that,' given a few logistical specifications."

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