Ottawa woman's family told they must flee Syrian home to get chance to come to Canada
'It's getting really bad, and worse and worse [in Damascus],' woman says
An Ottawa woman who has been trying for years to bring her mother and siblings from Syria to Canada is upset to learn that the only hope is for her relatives to flee their home in Damascus and become refugees.
Ruba Alhamwi has been living in Canada for eight years and is a Canadian citizen.
She told the CBC's Judy Trinh that her family, still living in Syria's capital, hears bombing on a nightly basis and sometimes deals without electricity and water for days at a time.
"It's getting really bad, and worse and worse," she said.
The 28-year-old has saved $40,000 to help settle her family in Canada, but applications for temporary worker, visitor and student visas have all been rejected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
The latest rejection was for her brother, who just turned 18 and now faces conscription into the Syrian army.
Alhamwi said Canadian embassy officials have told her family members that they need to flee their home before they can be helped.
There are too many homeless refugees for immigration officials to choose a family that still has a roof over its head, even if the family members are ideal candidates, according to Peter Showler, a professor and director of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa.
But if Alhamwi's relatives do decide to flee Damascus, there's no guarantee they'll be selected to come to Canada.
In an email, a Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson said Canada is no longer processing visas or refugee claims from inside Syria, and that the nearest offices where Alhamwi's family could apply would be in either Jordan or Lebanon.