Canada eyes taking in Syrian refugees from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

A Syrian refugee helps a woman to leave a boat, after arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A Syrian refugee helps a woman to leave a boat, after arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos.


Canada will soon discuss with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey taking 25,000 Syrian refugees off their hands and resettling them in this country by year’s end, the immigration minister said Monday.

“The government is committed to welcoming 25,000 refugees by the end of the year,” Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters, “But we are also determined to do the job well, which means proper consideration be given to security concerns and to health concerns.”

He said Ottawa is looking to use commercial airlines, passenger ships and military transports to move asylum seekers, and could house them at Canadian military bases or with Canadian families who sponsor them.

He said work has already started to select refugees, get exit permits for them and in the coming days Ottawa will “engage with the leaders of the countries where these refugees are residing.”

McCallum singled out Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as the “primary countries” it is looking to.

“It’s possible that we will take refugees from each of those countries, or maybe there will be more of a focus on one or two of them,” he said.

“We’re working on the logistics,” he said. “Every option is on the table. Whatever works. Whatever is cost effective. Whatever will get them here safely and quickly.”

McCallum said an ad hoc committee chaired by Health Minister Jane Philpott, and including McCallum and ministers of foreign affairs, defense, public safety would sort it all out.

A detailed plan is to be announced in the coming days or weeks, he said.

Meanwhile, McCallum also announced Can$100 million (U.S.$75 million) contribution to the U.N. refugee agency to support relief efforts in Syria and in neighboring countries.

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