Written by Alex Cosh
On Wednesday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced in a news release that 30,000 refugees from Afghanistan have landed in Canada since August 2021, when the Taliban took over that country.
The statement explained that those entering Canada include "Afghans who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, family members of former Afghan interpreters, and privately sponsored refugees arriving through the humanitarian stream." Those accepted through humanitarian channels include LGBTQ people, women leaders and human rights advocates.
The goal, according to the government, is to bring in a total of 40,000 Afghans by the end of this year.
However, the statement acknowledged:
"...many Afghans continue to face great risks in attempting to leave Afghanistan or are simply unable to make the journey without assistance. Significant challenges remain, as there is no Canadian diplomatic or military presence in Afghanistan."
Those challenges were elaborated on in a report by The Globe and Mail, which explained:
"...many Afghans remain stranded inside Afghanistan, or in neighbouring Pakistan, and have waited more than a year for a flight to Canada without having received any explanation for the delay ... The Globe went to Pakistan in November and spoke with dozens of Afghans who are waiting to come to Canada. Some, including families living in hotels run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are still there."
Last year, The Maple revealed that when the federal government crafted special exemptions - such as from vaccination requirements - in its policy for welcoming Ukrainians fleeing Russia's illegal invasion, it anticipated requests for equal treatment from those fleeing "equally or more precarious circumstances in other parts of the world."
Refugee advocates told The Maple that the way Canada has facilitated entry for Ukrainians should be viewed as a "model" for how to treat individuals fleeing dangerous situations all around the world.
Cassandra Fultz, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, told CTV News in March 2022: “This is basically how all immigration programs should be for everyone. But instead, it really is night and day if we talk about the programs for Afghanistan’s refugees.”
Since the onset of Russia's invasion in February 2022, 205,000 Ukrainians have entered Canada by land and air, according to IRCC's latest figures. That figure represents more than five times the number of refugees Canada plans to accept from Afghanistan, a country with a similar population size to Ukraine.