Canada Pledges to Help More Refugees

Ottawa, December 8, 2011 — Yesterday, at the United Nations, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney pledged that Canada would continue its tradition of helping the world’s persecuted.

During his speech to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Minister Kenney committed, for each of the next five years, to contribute to an international pool of resettlement spaces that could be drawn upon in times of extreme urgency such as what happened when thousands of refugees in Libya had to flee.

“Canada will make available 200 of our existing resettlement spaces, which represents 10 percent of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) request for emergency situations,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada is committed to providing protection to those who need it most, which is also why Canada has expanded its resettlement program by 20 percent.”

Canada will also use its resettlement program to respond to the protection needs of women and girls and victims of persecution due to sexual orientation. To underscore this commitment, Canada is responding to the UNHCR’s request to resettle a group of women who are victims of sexual violence in Haiti. Canada will resettle 40 women and their dependents or 20 percent of the UNHCR’s request.

Minister Kenney also noted the disturbing increase in the number of asylum claims from European countries. Canada receives more asylum claims from the democratic European Union than from Africa or Asia. The Minister called on countries to work together with our partners through the UNHCR to address such flows.

Minister Kenney also confirmed Canada’s commitment to creating an Office of Religious Freedom to promote and protect freedom of religion and belief, building on past Canadian efforts and consistent with core Canadian values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“It is our common duty to defend the rights of the afflicted and to give voice to the voiceless,” noted the Minister. “Canada is uniquely placed to protect and promote religious freedom around the world. We are a country of many ethnicities and religions, but we all share one humanity – one of tolerance, one of acceptance, one of peace and security.”

Canada has one of the most generous immigration and refugee systems in the world. We resettle approximately one in 10 of the world’s resettled refugees – more than any other industrialized country in the world after the United States.

Since World War II, Canadians have provided refuge to over one million refugees.

Background: Minister Kenney’s speech

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Candice Malcolm
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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