Canada's movement to resettlement is off to a slow start this year, with just over 1,000 refugees settled into early March, government data shows, raising doubts about the country's ability to meet its ambitious 2021 targets.
Canada resettled more than 9,000 refugees last year in the midst of a global pandemic.Although this was less than half of a global total since 2015, it still equates to about 40% of the national number of resettled refugees last year.
Missing its target casts a shadow on the image Canada is burning as a global leader in refugee resettlement.But it also puts thousands of people in dire straits as their situation worsens.
The global refugee resettlement problem descended to its lowest point in nearly two decades last year, as countries closed their borders in the face of a global public health emergency.The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is striving to reverse this decline by securing commitment from countries to bring people in displaced territories.
Canada is seeking a leader role in this specialized effort and has been talking to other countries about creating global refugee streams.The country set a 2030 target at 36,000, its highest since 2016 and about four times its 2018 value total.
A spokesman for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino said the total resettlements were topped through early March 1,000.
I am concerned about the international challenges in our system, especially in terms of the ability of our ongoing partners to move people across borders, Mendicino said in an interview.
He said that the government remains determined to meet its goal.But we completely recognise that we are still in the throes of this pandemic, and that may have an effect.
It is too early to say whether or not we will be able to accomplish that goal.
Between January 2015 and February 2021, the majority of Canada's refugees came from Syria and Middle East, 76,300 of the 160,490 from Africa.
Meanwhile, the situation is worsening for displaced persons, says UNHCR senior resettlement officer Michael Casasola.
Access to food is a challenge.Psychiatric health is deteriorating.And many are struggling to put themselves together financially, especially those who once relied on remittances which have dried up recently.
But there has been all sorts of challenges in the field thanks to COVID, Casasola said challenges as basic as transferring a refugee from an camp to an airport.