As It Happens

Canada's refugee model praised by UN high commissioner

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the attack in Belgium should only steel Canada's resolve to help find a lasting solution to Syria's refugee crisis. And the Canadian model of public/private sponsorships of refugees should be exported around the world.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The United Nations new High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is praising the Trudeau government's plan for Syrian refugees as a model for other wealthy countries. 

"The Canadian resettlement program is very exemplary," Grandi tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Grandi is in Ottawa this week. He says the Canadian model of public/private sponsorship allows communities to contribute and rally around refugees in need. Meanwhile, the government is able to maintain their commitment to resettle refugees.

"We think it is an important model that could be exported with some help and some advising and could be very productive," says Grandi.

He is asking states to take in about 10 per cent of the estimated 4.2 million people who've become refugees from the Syrian civil war.

Migrants protest on train tracks near the makeshift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

The Liberal government had committed to taking in 25,000 government-assisted refugees by the end of this year and have about 8,000 more to go towards that goal. But, they have not set a firm number for how many Syrians they will admit through the private system. The total refugee settlement target for this year — from all countries — is 44,800.

Critics say that the streams of refugees flowing into Europe could allow terrorists to enter countries. Grandi counters that if action is taken now, that won't happen,

Migrants wait for food in the make shift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

"Europe has been talking for a long time about stepping up resettlement from Turkey … this needs to be done quickly and in very large numbers if we want to create an alternative to flows controlled by smugglers."

With files from CBC News


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