Documents reveal why Canada rejected dozens of Syrian refugee claimants

Interesting insights into how the vetting and selection process worked:

One had been a senior government official complicit in human rights abuses. Three had been involved in “subversion by force.” Another was considered a danger to the security of Canada.

Government documents obtained by the National Post reveal why Canada rejected dozens of Syrians as refugees, and provide a “high-level overview” of the backgrounds of those who were selected.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada documents, released under the Access to Information Act, summarize the results of interviews of Syrian refugees conducted by visa officers in Beirut.

The refusal rate for Syrian refugees was 4 per cent according to the documents, which, though released only recently, date to the early stages of the Syrian refugee program, when the Liberal government was trying to fulfill a campaign promise to resettle 25,000 by the end of 2015.

During the first month the Liberals were in office, Canadian visa officers refused Syrian refugee claimants 35 times for everything from failing to answer questions truthfully to uncertainty about their identities.

Between 2014 and Nov. 17, 2015 83 applicants were refused — five of those for security reasons. (Because some may have been rejected for more than one reason, it is unclear exactly how many Syrians were turned away in total.)

According to the documents, the Syrians accepted as refugees came from five areas: Aleppo, Hassakeh, Damascus, Homs and the Dara’a and Sweida region along the Jordanian border in the south.

Those from Aleppo were “virtually all” Armenian families with one or two children. Most were “self-employed businessmen and tradesmen (welders, mechanic, jewelers) with moderate to high levels of wealth,” it said.

The oft repeated narrative with this group was that they were forced to take flight very suddenly, in the middle of the night or early morning upon discovering that the Daesh (ISIL) was marching on their town or village

They tended to be from neighbourhoods close to Aleppo’s old city, near the frontline between government and opposition forces. Most had fled Syria in 2012, although some had stayed until as late as 2014 because they didn’t have the money or needed to care for elderly family members.

“Those who stayed longer tended to float between neighbourhoods staying with different family members. They moved as the fighting moved and intensified in different parts of the city,” a report on the interviews said.

They cited their reasons for leaving Syria as the complete lack of security. “There was no water or power, and regular shelling of neighbourhoods. There were a few accounts of client, client family members, or neighbours having been kidnapped and ransomed.”

In Beirut, most found work in their trades while others were employed part-time at places such as restaurants. Those lacking money or jobs “tended to migrate back and forth between Lebanon and Syria,” the report said.

Source: Documents reveal why Canada rejected dozens of Syrian refugee claimants | National Post

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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