OTTAWA – The theme of this year’s UNHCR World Refugee Day, Together we heal, learn and shine, underscores the importance of health care, education and sports in supporting the wellbeing of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people.
In April 2021, the UNHCR reported on the clear link between climate change and the displacement of vulnerable populations. Since 2010, weather-related disasters have forced the displacement of about 21.5 million people per year.
“There is no doubt that the climate emergency is creating intolerable living conditions for millions of people globally,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “Canada must be prepared to do its part and welcome more refugees and asylum seekers.
“Two devastating hurricanes hit Honduras in 2020, and with minimal support for recovery, thousands have been forced to simply pack up and leave. The decision to abandon one’s home and country is not undertaken lightly, especially given the arduous and often perilous journey this entails. Faced with no hope, families take such decisions in order to survive.”
“The federal government’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023 to increase Canada’s admissions annually over the next three years is a step in the right direction, but we must be prepared to increase levels even more quickly if necessary,” said Ms. Paul.
“This year’s UNHCR theme reminds us of the human element; the daily challenges facing the men, women and children who find themselves as refugees. Many will likely spend months, if not years, in camps, awaiting confirmation on requests for asylum. Like people anywhere, they need access to health care, vaccines, education and learning environments. As a rich nation, Canada must enhance its collaboration with its international partners to support agencies like the UNHCR and other NGOs with financial support and coordinated strategies to address this mounting humanitarian crisis.”
The Green Party reiterates its call for the federal government to reopen the Safe Third Country Agreement (STA), as the United States remains an unsafe third country for asylum seekers.
“Closing our borders to asylum seekers puts their lives at risk without making Canadians any safer,” said Ms. Paul. “And it makes Canada complicit when these individuals are returned to their home countries where they risk persecution, torture or death.”
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