Canada increases Afghan refugee resettlement target to 40,000

Canada has doubled the number of Afghans fleeing the Taliban it plans to host to 40,000, Canada’s Foreign Minister said on Monday, in keeping with a campaign pledge made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The announcement, which came a week after Mr. Trudeau’s party was re-elected, will certainly be welcomed by aid groups in Canada. They had pressured the government to do much more when it initially pledged last month to welcome 20,000 refugees after the Taliban came to power.

With the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law and their crackdown on women, many Afghans hoped to leave the country, and members of Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet had said during the campaign that they would increase the number of refugees they saw. they would accept beyond the initial number. 20,000 digit.

But the announcement Monday by Marc Garneau, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as he addressed the United Nations Annual General Assembly, was the first official word of the enlargement.

The doubling will put the Afghan effort on par with the Syrian resettlement program that marked Mr. Trudeau’s first year in office. It hosted 39,636 refugees from November 2015 until the end of the following year.

Mr. Garneau highlighted Canada’s resettlement of the Syrians by announcing his plan for Afghanistan on the podium of the General Assembly in New York.

“Today, in the face of a heartbreaking situation in Afghanistan, Canadians have once again shown their openness to those who do not wish to live under the Taliban regime but prefer to defend democracy, human rights and equality of the sexes, ”he said.

“In fact, Canadians overwhelmingly asked us to do more,” he said. “And in response to their generosity and welcoming spirit, we are now committed to welcoming 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada – so that they too can contribute to our success, while continuing to support their efforts for a more peaceful and more tolerant. ”

As was the case earlier with Syrian refugees, groups of individual Canadians will be able to privately sponsor Afghans who wish to come to the country and be responsible for their resettlement.

Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, said in an interview that Canada has established overland routes to evacuate Afghans to neighboring countries.

“It is essential that we continue to ensure that the Taliban respect the right of safe passage so that as many Afghans as possible to leave can do so,” Mendicino said. He added that the expanded resettlement effort will focus on women, girls, LGBT Afghans and people from ethnic and religious minorities, who have been targeted by the Taliban in the past.

Mr. Garneau also took advantage of the world’s biggest diplomatic stage to criticize China for its treatment of two Canadian citizens seized on nebulous charges after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, on an extradition request by the United States almost three years ago. Ms Meng was released on Friday, and China freed the two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

“Canada has respected the rule of law and two Canadian citizens have paid a heavy price for this commitment,” said Mr. Garneau. “We continue to oppose the way these two good people were treated. “

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