Canada also to help countries establish refugee programs.
TRENTON, Ont. (AA) – Canada pledged Wednesday to accept more Syrian refugees, answering a UN call for countries to find space for about 500,000 Syrians by the end of 2018.
Immigration Minister John McCallum made the promise in Geneva where representatives of more than 90 countries are attending a UN meeting on the refugee crisis.
McCallum also pledged Canadian support for the UN’s efforts to get other countries to accept refugees.
Since the UN first put out a plea for resettlement of refugees in June 2013, Canada has accepted 29,300, according to the Canadian News Wire service.
Canada did not put a number on the total of refugees it would accept but instead will release the figure later this year when the government puts into place a new two-year immigration plan.
McCallum suggested that the number should be significant. “We will continue to pursue solutions to ensure the humanitarian treatment and resettlement of Syrian refugees,” he said at the Geneva conference.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said at the conference that the UN is not looking for only direct resettlement.
“I ask that countries act with solidarity, in the name of our shared humanity, by pledging new and additional pathways for the admission of Syrian refugees,” he said.
“These pathways can include resettlement or humanitarian admission, family reunions, as well as labor or study opportunities,” Ban added.
McCallum said Canada would explore the expansion of its program that brings post-secondary students to the country to continue their education and perhaps remain in Canada afterward.
“I hope this will help to initiate other such similar opportunities for refugee students in many other countries,” McCallum said.
Canada will provide technical training and support for countries that wish to develop programs to accept approximately 4.2 million Syrians on the run from the five-year civil war in that country, he said.
Canada earlier promised to accept 25,000 government-assisted Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 and so far have welcomed 15,000.
In all, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees lists 4,812,851 “total persons of concern.”
Turkey accommodates the largest number of refugees in the world with almost 3 million people it accepted since the start of Syrian civil war.