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Almost 800 people who survived ISIL now in Canada as refugees: Hussen

October 05, 2017 - 3:12 PM

OTTAWA - Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Thursday nearly 800 Yazidi women and girls and others who survived the cruelties of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have now arrived in Canada as refugees.

Hussen made the comment in response to a question from a Liberal MP during question period.

However, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel says she wants to know exactly who sponsored the 800 and how many of them are actually Yazidis.

Almost a year ago, after intense lobbying by Rempel and private sponsorship groups trying to help Yazidis, the government agreed to support her motion to resettle Yazidi women and girls within months. In February, Hussen announced 400 had arrived, about 300 of them Yazidis.

He said then the government was committed to sponsoring 1,200 Yazidis and other survivors of ISIL by the end of the year, with $28 million in funding.

The Yazidis are a religious minority group of about 700,000 people that had mostly lived in northern Iraq near the Syrian border. In 2014, ISIL launched a campaign against them, murdering thousands of men and boys and forcing thousands of women and girls into sex slavery.

Hussen spoke proudly of the resettlement effort.

"I continue to be amazed by the generosity and compassion extended to this highly vulnerable group by all Canadians," Hussen said.

His department said 60 of the 800 were privately sponsored, but provided no information on how many of the overall total were actually Yazidis.

Rempel said she is concerned the government isn't living up to its commitment for 1,200 government-sponsored refugees and has also heard that the actual number of Yazidis is small.

She also is concerned the government has had to divert money from the Yazidi program to address the spike in asylum claimants coming over the border illegally in Quebec and Manitoba.

Hussen told a Commons committee Thursday morning that the situation at the American border and the influx of asylum seekers wasn't cutting into the government's ability to deal with other immigration issues or resettling overseas refugees.

Conservatives on the committee repeatedly pressed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale for details about the border crossers, including how many times the government has ordered an asylum seeker deported as a threat to public security and how many of those deportations have yet to occur.

The two ministers pushed back during testy exchanges with opposition MPs, arguing that there is no crisis, despite thousands of border crossers coming through Quebec.

"This implication in this dump of innuendos that somehow the border is insecure, and somehow the safety of the country is being compromised is absolutely wrong," Goodale said.

—with files from Jordan Press

—follow @mrabson on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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