Manitoba to welcome influx of Afghan refugees
Manitoba is getting ready to welcome an influx of Afghan refugees.
CTV News Winnipeg has learned a charter flight carrying 350 government-assisted refugees is set to arrive in Winnipeg next week.
A provincial spokesperson confirmed the charter is part of the Canadian government's commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghans in Canada following the Taliban take over one year ago.
So far, 17,375 Afghans have arrived in the country.
Of those people, numbers from the federal government show 320 Afghan refugees have resettled in Manitoba with 275 in Winnipeg and 45 in Brandon, Man.
Resettlement supports for the newly arrived government-assisted refugees will be delivered by service provider organizations funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the resettlement assistance program, the province said.
IRCC wasn’t able to respond immediately to a request for comment on the arrival of refugees.
According to the province, Société de la Francophonie Manitobaine in Winnipeg, Westman Immigrant Services in Brandon, and Regional Connections in Winkler, Man. will support the newly arrived refugees once they’re in Manitoba.
It’s not expected everyone will stay in the province. Winnipeg is expected to welcome 75 people, Brandon 50 people while 25 are going to Winkler.
The province said it works closely with IRCC to provide the necessary settlement supports.
ANTI-TERRORISM PROVISIONS CUTTING OFF AFGHANS FROM CANADIAN AID, HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES SAY
The arrival of more refugees comes as other groups within Manitoba working to provide aid to people who remain in Afghanistan continue to face roadblocks.
People have been struggling under deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions since the Taliban regained control of the country last August.
According to humanitarian aid agencies, at least 23 million people require urgent assistance and 19.7 million people are regularly going to bed hungry including more than 13 million children.
“Since the changeover of government we have not been able to get any aid into the country at all and that has to do with legal restrictions put in place by Canada,” said Paul Hagerman, a Winnipeg-based public policy director for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Hagerman said the issue is the Taliban remains listed as a terrorist entity and would collect taxes on aid sent to local organizations in Afghanistan.
“Any kind of aid we send would involve even a small amount of money going to the Taliban and that contravenes Canada’s Criminal Code,” Hagerman said.
The Canadian Foodgrains Banks and several other groups have been calling on Ottawa for an exemption to provide help without being exposed to the risk of criminal liability but so far they’ve received no clarification on the issue.
“There’s so much more that Canadians can do to help Afghans if Canadian organizations are able to help without the facing the risk of prosecution for violating the Criminal Code and losing their charitable status,” said Guy Smagghe, director of Presbyterian World Service and Development. “So this is an unacceptable situation.”
The groups launched an email campaign urging Canadians to email their MPs in a bid to ensure counterterrorism provisions don’t interfere with the delivery of life-saving aid and assistance.
“Afghans have been suffering for too long,” said Marvin Parvez with Community World Service Asia. “They need our help today.”
Global Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement to CTV News Winnipeg that departments from across the federal government are working to find a solution that upholds Canada’s national security interests while facilitating the delivery of assistance to the Afghan people.
'IT'S VERY HEARTBREAKING': WINNIPEGGER WORRIES FOR FAMILY STILL LIVING IN AFGHANISTAN
Winnipegger Nazefa Ismael worries about her brother and sister living in Afghanistan. She hopes a solution will be found sooner rather than later.
“It is very challenging. It’s heartbreaking when you hear from the Afghanistan people,” said Ismael, adding people are struggling financially and are going hungry. “It’s very heartbreaking.”
She said the problem is especially dire for women, whose access to work has been limited, and girls, who’ve been denied the right to go to school.
“How do they provide for their family,” Ismael said. “Some families, all the females provide the food but if the female is not allowed to go to work, how do they provide for the family?”
Ottawa said so far this year it has allocated $143 million in humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
The federal government said it is working with a range of organizations including the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs to deliver international assistance.
“Canada remains committed to facilitating life-saving assistance to vulnerable Afghans,” Global Affairs Canada said. “Canada continues to engage with international partners to hold the Taliban to account for its horrific treatment and discrimination of women and girls.”
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