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Sponsored Afghan refugees arrive in Canada

17 December 20210 comments

The first charter plane carrying privately sponsored Afghan refugees has arrived in Canada.

The group of about 250 people will start their new lives in Canada, be welcomed into their sponsor communities and go into quarantine with the help of their private sponsors.

Under the scheme, private sponsors assist refugees settle into their new homes by helping cover expenses like food, rent or clothing.

They help refugees find schools, or open a bank account. In addition to this support, privately sponsored refugees are also eligible for the same government-funded settlement services as other newcomers.

A similar scheme is being implemented by the Australian Government.

The newly arrived refugees are part of Canada’s promise to welcome vulnerable Afghan refugees, including female leaders, human rights activists, persecuted minorities, LGBTQ individuals and journalists.

This humanitarian program is in addition to special intake Canada announced to help resettle Afghans who worked for Canada during and after its military mission in Afghanistan.

The Canadian government promised months ago that it would resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees, many of whom could not escape the country before the Taliban returned to power in August.

Many of these people are reported to be in desperate situations inside Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries, waiting for the IRCC to approve their applications.

So far, fewer than 4,000 Afghan refugees have arrived and more than 9,500 people inside Afghanistan are approved and waiting to come to Canada.

In Australia, dozens of community groups have expressed interest in a proposed new scheme that would allow them to privately sponsor refugees to come to Australia.

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition in support of the program, which has already been successfully trialled in Australia and 40 local governments are backing it.

The trial, called the Community Support Program (CSP), is based on the Canadian scheme which sees private groups or community organisations cover the financial costs and settlement support for humanitarian entrants.

Canada’s program, established in the 1970s, has welcomed more than 300,000 refugees over four decades, in addition to the government’s resettlement schemes.

Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, told media recently he looked forward to “ensuring the program becomes a genuine, successful partnership between community, business and the government”.

But some advocates fear the government’s plans for the scheme will mean a cost shift of refugee program from government to community groups if the sponsorship scheme is not allotted extra places.