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Canada to Welcome Yazidi Refugees Within Four Months After Vote Receives Unanimous Support

the CanadaVisa Team - 26 October, 2016


Members of Parliament (MPs) in Ottawa have voted unanimously to settle within four months members of the Yazidi population who have been persecuted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The motion, which was brought forward by the opposition Conservative Party, also formally labels the persecution of Yazidis a genocide.

The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish community who practice Yazidism, which combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. They live primarily in the Nineveh Province of Iraq. However, since ISIS took power over large parts of Northern Iraq, beginning in 2014, many Yazidi refugees have fled to neighbouring countries or even further afield, including Turkey and Greece.

The motion called on the House of Commons to:

Speaking after the vote was carried, Conservative Immigration critic Michelle Rempel said that Yazidi women have been "abandoned" over the past year. She called on the federal government to set specific quotas and to work with the international community to establish "safe zones" for Yazidis facing persecution within refugee camps.

For his part, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum said he was pleased that all parties in the House of Commons could rise "above politics" on the issue.

"At a time when the world is so divided on the question of immigration and refugees, I think it is wonderful as a Canadian that while we different parties have different views on many things, we share the view that it is right to welcome the vulnerable people to our country," said McCallum.

Later, McCallum issued the following statement: 

“The Government of Canada is pleased that all parties are cooperating to help the vulnerable Yazidi population that has suffered so much.

“Canada has a long and proud tradition of providing protection to those who need it the most. The unanimous support for this cause in the House of Commons demonstrates that this principle is embraced by all Canadians.

“The Government of Canada is committed to offering protection to the Yazidi population at risk. We support the terms of the motion to bring Yazidis to Canada within 120 days.

“We recognize that operating in the region is complex and could pose risks. It is imperative that we consider the next steps very carefully.

“Officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are meeting with key partners to gather as much information as possible on the significant challenges and the steps forward.”

Last winter, the Liberal government of Canada successfully resettled more than 30,000 Syrian refugees who had fled following the onset of civil war in that country and across the region.

Learn more about Canada's refugee settlement programs.

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