Nova Scotia

Ottawa looks to expedite bringing relatives to Canada for Syrian parents who lost 7 kids in fire

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore says it is "absolutely critical" to get family members of Kawthar Barho to Canada as quickly as possible, following a house fire that claimed the lives of her seven children and left her husband badly injured.

Halifax MP trying to help mother whose children died in Halifax house fire on Tuesday

Five of the Barho children with their parents, in an undated photo posted to Facebook by the Halifax mosque the family attended. (Ummah Masjid/Facebook)

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore says it is "absolutely critical" to get family members of Kawthar Barho to Canada as quickly as possible, following a house fire that claimed the lives of her seven children and left her husband badly injured.

Fillmore met with Barho at the Halifax Infirmary on Wednesday where her husband, Ebraheim, remains in a medically induced coma as a result of the fire early Tuesday morning at their Halifax home.

"She is understandably and profoundly distressed right now," Fillmore told reporters Thursday following a funding announcement in Dartmouth, N.S., with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"The one thing that she has asked for to help her get through all this is to have her family with her."

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore says Kawthar Barho is 'profoundly distressed' but 'feels the love of the community.' (CBC)

The Barho family are Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada in 2017. Kawthar Barho has requested that her mother and brother, who are in Lebanon, be allowed to immigrate to Canada to be with her in Halifax.

"We have taken that very seriously," Fillmore said. "We know that Kawthar's husband is in very difficult shape in the hospital … That's her only close family support in Canada right now, and so she needs people here quickly to be around her."

Fillmore said he doesn't know what the timelines are to bring family here. But he said he's working with the YMCA and Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia to get applications completed for them and in the hands of federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen as soon as possible.

Fillmore said in cases where it's "life and death," there are opportunities to expedite application processes. A very clear case has been made that this is one of those situations, he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, meets with Muslim leaders and community members following a vigil held for the seven siblings of a Syrian refugee family who died in a house fire in Halifax. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Trudeau said Thursday that Hussen is "seized" with the case.

While the immigration system is based on rules and procedures "that are fairly applied across the board" for the many thousands of people who want to come to Canada each year, the system is also "compassionate and there are opportunities to look into specific cases," Trudeau told reporters.

"In heartbreaking cases like this, we're certainly looking at doing what we can to bring this family, that has suffered such a devastating loss, together."

Fillmore said although Barho is deeply distressed, she "feels the love of the community right now and that's really helping her." He said a clear case has been made of the importance of expediting the application process for her family.

"I think it is absolutely critical that we get these family members here as absolutely quickly as we can."

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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