Canada marks significant milestone, welcoming over 30,000 vulnerable AfghansWritten by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
April 12, 2023—Ottawa Communities across Canada continue to welcome Afghans and are helping them settle in to their new homes, as the Government of Canada works toward resettling at least 40,000 Afghan nationals by the end of this year.
Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that Canada has now welcomed over 30,000 Afghan refugees since August 2021. The latest newcomers arrived in Toronto, Ontario, on a charter flight from Pakistan and include Afghans who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, family members of former Afghan interpreters, and privately sponsored refugees arriving through the humanitarian stream. Canada’s humanitarian resettlement program is focused on resettling the most vulnerable Afghans, including woman leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted and religious minorities, 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and journalists.
Today’s new arrivals will settle in communities across Canada, including Surrey (BC), Toronto and London (ON).
The Government of Canada is on track to welcome at least 40,000 Afghans by the end of 2023. However, many Afghans continue to face great risks in attempting to leave Afghanistan or are simply unable to make the journey without assistance. Significant challenges remain, as there is no Canadian diplomatic or military presence in Afghanistan. We are navigating a constantly evolving situation in Afghanistan, where movement continues to be very difficult and dangerous.
It is thanks to continued collaboration with international partners including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and other countries in the region that so many Afghans have been able to find safety in Canada. The contributions of other international organizations and referral partners including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Refugee Agency, Frontline Defenders and ProtectDefenders.eu. cannot be understated. In Canada, the significant efforts of provincial and territorial partners, municipalities, resettlement service providers and thousands of Canadians have made this achievement possible.
“I am proud to mark a significant milestone today in Canada's long-standing humanitarian tradition by welcoming over 30,000 vulnerable Afghans to their new home. This is an ambitious achievement as we work towards our goal of resettling at least 40,000 Afghans by the end of 2023. Although the Afghanistan resettlement effort is one of the largest and most difficult in Canada’s history, we remain committed to maximizing every opportunity to support these vulnerable Afghans in their transition to a better life in Canada. This milestone is a testament to the incredible work of governments, stakeholders and NGOs, and underscores our belief that welcoming refugees is an integral part of who we are.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“The safe and dignified resettlement of refugees globally has been a central part of IOM’s work for more than 70 years and we are proud to be part of Canada’s efforts to provide a new home for tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans. We continue to work closely with the Government of Canada and other partners to ensure Afghan refugees are given the opportunity to restart their lives in safety.”
– António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration
The Government of Canada’s commitment to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan nationals by the end of 2023 remains one of the largest programs in the world
Over half of the overarching commitment focuses on those who assisted Canada, including 18,000 spaces for the Special Immigration Measures (SIMs) program for Afghan nationals and their families who closely assisted the Government of Canada. Canada is also welcoming up to 5,000 extended family members of Afghan interpreters who came to Canada as part of earlier programs.
Canada was one of the first countries to launch a special humanitarian resettlement program for vulnerable Afghans.
Afghans have been welcomed in more than 170 communities across Canada. Detailed information about the destination communities welcoming Afghans is available on our website.
The Government of Canada recently introduced amendments to the Criminal Code to reduce some of the barriers faced when helping individuals leave Afghanistan safely.
Government-assisted refugees become permanent residents upon arrival in Canada. They receive at least 12 months of income support under the Resettlement Assistance Program and will have access to settlement services, including language training and the Interim Federal Health Program for medical coverage. We work closely with service provider organizations in Canada to deliver services to newcomers and make sure they can successfully integrate.