Protesters demand Canada take in more Syrian refugees
With the world’s attention focused on the issue of Syrian refugees, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in downtown Montreal on Saturday, demanding that the Canadian government take in more of the displaced.
There are an estimated 4 million people displaced by the war in Syria. Canada has taken in 2,300 so far this year, with plans to take in another 8,000 over the next three years.
People who work with refugees said there is often too much red tape to be able to help in time.
“This lady wanted to bring her family members,” said Janet Cleveland, a research on refugee issues at McGill University who attended the protest. “She had money in the bank, a place for them to sleep, had everything in place and all the government had to do was help her with the paperwork and they refused to do it.”
Refugees are often held up for more than a year in difficult conditions in camps.
“Young children, it is just so disturbing, as you can imagine, when they are sitting in a refugee camp with nothing to do,” said Cleveland. “No schooling, feeling that everyone has rejected them and the entire world doesn’t care.”
Some at the protest said they feel the government’s reluctance to take in more refugees is due to threats to public security, a concern they said is overblown.
“Our answer to that is three quarters of the refugees are women and children,” said Faisal Alazem, spokesperson for the Syrian Canadian Council. “No one is suggesting that no security check have to be made.”