December 18, 2015, Ottawa, ON—Today, the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, paid his first visit to Lebanon since Canada announced on November 24, 2015, its national project to resettle Syrian refugees to Canada.
An update of the on-the-ground operations was provided by Canadian government officials and staff from the Embassy and the Canadian Operations Centre (COC). The Minister toured the COC, which included a walk-through of processing—from biometric collection, to medicals, to immigration interviews. The Minister also had the opportunity to speak with a number of refugees who were at the centre and preparing to potentially come to Canada.
During his trip, the Minister also led a roundtable discussion with partner agencies and refugee resettlement service providers to discuss the challenges they face resettling Syrian refugees to Canada and to other countries. Topics discussed included the referral processes, scheduling, movement logistics, form filling, medicals and exit permits.
A visit to the Saida informal refugee settlement provided the Minister with an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Syrian family approved for resettlement to Canada. Informal settlements are different from formal settlements in that they are areas where refugees have built housing on land that they do not own and there may not be services such as water, sewage and electricity. Lebanon does not have formal refugee settlements as the case may be in other countries.
Minister McCallum had a bilateral meeting with the Lebanese Minister of the Interior. This meeting was an opportunity to express Canada’s support to the Lebanese government for their efforts to provide refuge to the over one million Syrians and to thank them for facilitating Canada’s efforts to resettle refugees from there.
“The work being done on the ground here in Lebanon by Canadians and others is enormous. We are making a very real difference in the lives of so many Syrian refugees who have gone through such hardship. Those who come to Canada can expect a warm welcome and an opportunity to be successful in their new home,” McCallum said.