Canada says may miss end-of-year Syrian refugee target

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"The issue is whether all of those 10,000 Syrian refugees will have arrived in Canada, will have their feet on Canadian soil by December 31", McCallum told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday.

McCallum pointed at a number of factors like unfriendly weather conditions and refugees wanting to bid their families and friends goodbye, which are beyond the control of the government, as contributing to the delay.

After forming the government on November 4, the Liberals reduced their targets to 10,000 refugees by the end of the year, and a total of 25,000 by the end of February.

There is a flight scheduled to leave the Middle East on Christmas Day and land in Canada on Boxing Day, with there is capacity to bring up to five flights a day before New Year's Eve.

"That is to say, well before the end of February, 25,000 Syrian refugees will have landed in Canada as permanent residents, so, I am very confident that that target will be achieved".

President Barack Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrians over the course of this fiscal year, and many American states - apparently fearing Islamist extremists will be hiding amid the refugee flow - have said they do not want them. Air Transat has operated two earlier flights of refugees to Canada, on December 20 and 21, the company said.

That deadline was pushed back to the end of February last month.

McCallum also announced that the federal government would be allocating an additional $15 million to Canadian resettlement agencies.

Of those refugees already here, McCallum said 339 are government-assisted refugees, 1,297 are privately sponsored refugees and 233 were "blended" cases.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected to a surprise majority in October, promising to accept more refugees more quickly than the ousted Conservative government. Immigration and Refugees Minister John McCallum says processing centres in Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon are certifying about 800 refugees per day as permanent Canadian residents.

There will be no flights landing on Christmas Day, McCallum confirmed, but some may be taking off to begin their journey to Canada.

 

 

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