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Globally, countries are highly affected by the refugee crisis. While some countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa, are the source of the refugees, countries in the west, including the USA and Canada are among the popular destinations. As a popular destination for refugees, therefore, Canada has been a net immigration country. As such, a considerable percentage of the Canadian population (20 percent) is made up of foreign-born permanent residents (Khanlou et al. 1). It is worth noting that the averages for refugees per year have been changing from 18000 in the 1980s to 11000 since 2000 (McKeary and Newbold 2). With the Syrian crisis and the socio-economic issues in the MENA region, more refugees are heading to Canada with the authorities accepting and settling 28,499 in 2016 (Tyyskä et al. 2). This paper attempts to answer critical questions regarding refugees in Canada. First, the paper justifies the noble initiative for refugee acceptance. Second, pertinent policies that govern refugees and how they work are discussed. Third, the paper focuses on challenges and concerns on opening doors for refugees.
Reasons for Accepting Refugees in Canada
Canada may not be the richest country and may not have all the required resources to settle refugees. However, it is considered the most generous country globally about its treatment to newcomers (Alexander 615). Canadians’ generosity and fairness is the most outstanding reason that allows them to welcome and host people fleeing persecutions and who fear prosecutions from their countries (Tyyskä et al. 5). The values of humanitarianism and generosity urge the Canadian government, politicians, and community leaders to perform their moral duties and accept refugees. The Canadian public is praised for getting refugees from camps and accepting them in cots and churches (Tyyskä et al. 5). Moreover, Canada is under international laws and regulations regarding refugees. As such, Canada must accept refugees and asylum seekers with the view of refraining them from going back to risks, and other humanitarian crises. Refugees flee wars, famine, political crises, and other risks. It would be morally irresponsible for Canada to turn such people away according to international humanitarian laws (Durieux 637).
The Canadian Refugee Policy
In Canada, the refugee system is regulated and controlled by a multi-disciplinary framework. The most pivotal element of the framework is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which entails the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program and the In-Canada Asylum Program (Library of Congress par. 1). The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program deal with refugees who seek asylum in Canada coming from other countries while the In-Canada Asylum Program is mandated to cater to refugees from within the country but fear possible torture or treatment from their country. Notably, the government of Canada and the province of Quebec play the initial role of providing assistance and settlement of refugees.
Moreover, non-government organizations, or/and private citizens are permitted by law to identify and sponsor refugees, provided the persons meet the set admissibility and eligibility requirements (How Canada’s refugee system works par. 6-7). Other than the local legal framework, the Canada refugee policy is greatly influenced by the collaboration and working together between Canada and the UNHCR during the identification of refugees for settlement. Another critical aspect regarding refugee policy in Canada is the Canada-US Safe Third Country, which hinders people from claiming refugee status at the border unless when specific exceptions are apparent. In all the cases, the refugees’ identification and settlement processes undergo thorough, rigorous, and multi-staged verification procedures. The procedures include, among other requirements, criminal, security, and medical checkups. Once settled, refugees are allowed to receive benefits from the government and other sponsors. It is worth noting that not all refugee claims are successful. Those who are not successful in their claim are deported or not allowed entry (Alexander 615).
Concerns about Acceptance of Refugees
Refugees come to Canada in tens of thousands every year and, therefore, challenges and concerns are apparent. The concerns are also evident in other countries that accept refugees, especially in huge numbers and from different parts of the globe. One of the greatest concerns regarding opening doors for refugees is the issue of security. It is vital to note that the government of Canada has an important duty to protect its citizens. Globally, there are trends where refugees and asylum seekers are involved in terrorism. It has also been reported that some elements of terrorism are associated with refugees coming to Canada, especially those coming from the Middle East. Many are concerned when Syrian refugees, especially male refugees, are allowed to settle in Canada (Tyyskä et al. 5). The concerns are linked to global terrorism activities, especially those involving refugees. For instance, the Paris attack and the Cologne sexual attack were linked to refugee terrorists.
Notably, the security concerns have made other countries, including the US, to practice anti-refugee measures (Tyyskä et al. 5). It is worth noting that the US and Canada have been trading partners for a considerable amount of time. As such, the border between the two countries is a strong route for refugees. With the US propagating anti-refugee policies, the border security between the two countries is heightened and this may have unintended effects on bilateral trade. On the other hand, the security problem has resulted in another concern where male refugees are discriminated against. Linking male refugees to terrorism have raised concerns from people championing for equal treatment of all asylum seekers regardless of their gender. Moreover, there are concerns regarding health provision to the refugees. Many scholarly articles have been published indicating that refugees in Canada are experiencing health-related problems. For instance, a study reveals that since refugees’ legal status is not clearly defined, they face huge health risks, especially women (Khanlou et al. 11).
Canada accepts tens of thousands of refugees annually. Most of the refugees come from regions affected by, war, famines, and other areas with humanitarian crises. Several reasons obligate Canada to accept refugees. The most compelling reason is the humanitarian values and generosity of the people of Canada. Also, Canada must follow international laws on refugees. The laws require that countries should accept and settle people fleeing humanitarian crises. It is worth noting that the refugee system in Canada is controlled by a multi-disciplinary framework that gives provisions on who should identify and settle refugees, who qualifies for a refugee claim, and what befalls those who do not qualify. Nevertheless, the refugee system in Canada faces some issues that raise vital concerns. The most evident concern is the heightened insecurity associated with refugee acceptance. In several parts of the world, refugees have been linked to terrorist activities. The security concern raises other issues such as issues regarding the Canada-US border and bilateral relationship. Lastly, acceptance of refugees in Canada raises concerns regarding legal provisions, especially in healthcare services.
Alexander, Chris. “Health care and refugees in Canada.” CMAJ, vol. 186, no.8, 2014, pp. 614-615.
Durieux, Jean-François. “The Duty to Rescue Refugees.” International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 28, no. 4, 2016, pp. 637–655.
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Khanlou, N, Haque, N, Skinner, A, Mantini, A, Kurtz, Landy, C. “Scoping Review on Maternal Health among Immigrant and Refugee Women in Canada: Prenatal, Intrapartum, and Postnatal Care.” Journal of Pregnancy, vol. 2017, no. 8783294, 2017, pp. 1-14.
“Library of Congress. Refugee Law and Policy: Canada.” 2016. Web.
McKeary, Marie and Bruce Newbold. “Barriers to Care: The Challenges for Canadian Refugees and their Health Care Providers.” Journal of Refugee Studies, 2010, pp. 1-23.
Tyyskä, Vappu, Blower, Jenna, Kawai, Shunya, Walcott, Ashley, University, Ryerson. “The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Canadian Media.” 2017. Web.