Clearwater responds to the Syrian refugee crisis

Many factions within Syria are fighting for control with no “endpoint” in sight

Editor, The Times:

Professor Daniel Heibert of the Department of Geography at University of British Columbia recently presented a webinar regarding the Syrian refugee crisis.

As of October 13 of this year, 593,432 people have arrived into Europe by sea, and 3,103 people have either died or are missing in this migration.

Many factions within Syria are fighting for control with no “endpoint” in sight. Heibert showed photos of the utter devastation by the bombing of cities like Hama, north of Damascus.

In a population of 22 million people in 2010, 250,000 to 300,000 people have been killed, one million people injured, six to seven million people internally displaced, five million people have fled the country and five to six million people are preparing to flee. It may take up to five years to see the end of this massive displacement.

Turkey, Greece and surrounding countries are groaning under the numbers of people entering.

Many countries are mobilizing to meet the humanitarian needs of this migration. Some countries are less welcoming and anti-refugee organizations are forming.

There are many demands of the European Union, as not all countries have an open border policy and some countries are more financially able than others to support this huge influx of people.

Sweden is offering permanent residence to Syrians. Germany expected 800,000 asylum claims and now has over one million. Germany also offers permanent residence. There is a massive mobilization of volunteers in Germany. Germany’s priorities are to assess refugee claims, provide accommodation, health care and education with a cost of over 6 billion Euros.

As of October 31, approximately 2,500 Syrian have been processed and landed in Canada.

These figures are staggering and there is nowhere near a global solution for this huge humanitarian crisis.

After a meeting in October to gage the interest of Clearwater, it was determined that Clearwater’s response to this humanitarian disaster would be to host a family. Through the federal government’s blended visa office referral program and with the expert assistance of Refugees and Friends Together (RAFT) a young family consisting of a husband, wife and young daughter has been assigned to Clearwater.

As this family is currently in Lebanon and there is much paperwork to do it, is unknown at this time when they will arrive in Clearwater.

It is RAFT in Clearwater’s commitment to help this family for a year to settle and become independent. This includes financial support for six months with the federal government providing financial support for the other six months.

Accommodation has been arranged and financial support is beginning to be pledged. Lists are being made of folks who are interested in supporting by teaching English, helping with community orientation, transportation and fundraising.

To find out how to contribute to this humanitarian program, check out Refugees and Friends in Clearwater on Facebook or call 250-674-3615 for more information.

Sandra Holmes


Clearwater, B.C.