Mark Collins – Canada’s Syrian Responsibilities–and Others’

The author of this piece was recently Canada’s defence attaché at Ankara before retiring from the Canadian Army with the rank of colonel:

Chris Kilford: Why Syria’s refugees are Canada’s business
More from Chris Kilford

So what about Alan Kurdi [see here]? Should we care? Some Canadians, from the safety of anonymous newspaper comment sections, would say no, many refugees are Muslim so not wanted and they will take our jobs or it’s simply not our issue. Of course, those commenters conveniently ignore the fact that when your government sends CF-18 fighter jets to supposedly “liberate” the Libyan people and actively works to undermine the Syrian government, it is your issue.

I would argue, therefore, that like the European Union we also have a moral responsibility to take in more Syrian refugees. In part, this is due to our own Middle Eastern meddling but more so because according to Immigration Canada our country “is recognized around the world for its leadership in offering a safe haven to people who need protection.”

So far, the government plans on accepting 11,300 Syrians along with 10,000 more over a three year period. Considering that 2,300 have already arrived, that’s another 6,000 per year between now and likely 2018. It’s not that many when you think of the 60,000 Vietnamese that arrived in just one year. Nor should we forget that some 7,000 Kosovar refugees were brought to Canada in 1999 and that 5,000 of them classified as “highly traumatized individuals” were airlifted here in just 23 days.

Given elections in Canada are now on the horizon, it’s easy for everyone to start pointing fingers. But now is not the time for finger-pointing and to date Canada has generously provided over $700 million in humanitarian related aid for Syria’s refugees. But what should we do now? Well, if Canada could take in 60,000 Vietnamese refugees 35 years ago surely we can bring in 60,000 Syrians now.

And, if they do come, the simple fact is that the vast majority will not become burdens. They will, taking my cue from Icelandic author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir, become our future friends and co-workers, authors and architects, builders and baristas, the classmates of our children…

How sure though can we be? Otherwise:

1) Many Obstacles Are Seen to U.S. Taking in Large Number of Syrian Refugees

Each year, the United States grants residency permits to as many as 70,000 refugees from around the world, most referred by the United Nations refugee agency, which helps administer asylum requests. Only a small fraction of those have been Syrians, in part because the process typically takes up to two years, and the numbers of Syrians referred to the United States only began to increase after the start of the war four years ago.

While the State Department has said it plans to increase the number, to perhaps 1,800 by next year, it would be of little more than symbolic value given the more than four million Syrians in need of shelter…

2) Europe’s multi-layered hypocrisy on refugees

By Anne Applebaum Columnist

Here is what no one wants to say: This is, in essence, a security crisis. For years now, Europeans have chosen to pretend that wars taking place in Syria and Libya were somebody else’s problem. It’s also a foreign policy crisis: At different times and for different reasons, all of the large European states — Britain, France, Italy, Germany — have blocked attempts to create a common foreign and defense policy, and as a result they have no diplomatic or political clout.

They haven’t wanted European leadership, and most of them wouldn’t have wanted U.S. leadership either, even if any had been on offer. The richest economy in the world has a power vacuum at its heart and no army. Now the consequences are literally washing up on Europe’s shores…

Ms Applebaum seems to be implying Euroboots on the ground. But that is something no Western state wants to do.

3) The Middle East Needs To Take Care Of Its Own Refugees [actually Saudis and Gulfies–Turks, Lebanese and Jordanians doing a great deal]

4) Islamic State has killed many Syrians, but Assad’s forces have killed even more [what say, PM Harper?]

Plus at twitter:

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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