CALGARY: Support drying up for some Syrian migrants

Calgary advocates fear support drying up for some Syrian newcomers


Dec. 28 Syrian refugees arrive Calgary

Siblings Maryam, Ines, Shirin and Malak hold up welcome signs for newly-arrived Syrian refugees at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary, Ab., on Monday December 28, 2015. (Mike Drew/Calgary Sun)

Some Syrian newcomers to Calgary are struggling to get by after support from private sponsors has dried up, say local advocates.

Sam Nammoura has helped Syrian newcomers who’ve alleged abuse, manipulation and a complete lack of financial or emotional support from the relatives that sponsored their journey to Calgary and whom they now rely on for housing, food and assistance as they adjust to a new life in Canada.

“They’re isolated. They have zero help,” he said.

“They’re really suffering tremendously.”

Nammoura, who works closely with newcomers as co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group, said these refugees are terrified of speaking up about their struggles and in desperate need of jobs.

Vancouver needs more permanent houses for Syrian migrants

Vancouver behind in housing Syrian refugees

SURREY, BC: March 9, 2016 -- Mohamad El Refaie, left holds his blind daughter Heba, 7 as his wife mother Shamia El Refaie, right holds their other daughter Lema, 4 a hotel in Surrey, B.C. Wednesday March 9, 2016. The family fled Syria as refugees. (photo by Ric Ernst / PNG) (Story by Tara Carman) TRAX #: 00042133A [PNG Merlin Archive]

The El Refaie family has moved from temporary housing in a Surrey hotel to a permanent home. RIC ERNST / VANCOUVER SUN

High housing prices have meant Syrian refugees in Metro Vancouver have had a harder time finding permanent housing than those who were settled elsewhere in Canada, with some waiting close to four months.

Nationally, more than 90 per cent of government-assisted Syrian refugees have found permanent housing, and in some cities, such as Ottawa, all have been housed.

In Metro Vancouver, there are 29 Syrian families still in temporary housing, said Chris Friesen, settlement services director with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. Three of those families arrived in late December, and one has been shuffled between three temporary housing sites over that time period.

The Immigrant Services Society has found homes for 13 of the remaining families, including two of the three who have been here since December. They will be moving in the next 10 days, Friesen said, leaving 16 families still to house.

The cost of housing coupled with large family sizes — often in excess of six people — has made housing refugee families more of a challenge in Vancouver and Toronto than in other parts of the country, especially Alberta, where an economic downturn has depressed housing prices, Friesen said.

Victoria faces a similar challenge, with about 25 Syrian families in that city in need of permanent housing. Some of the refugees who initially arrived in Victoria have gone farther afield, to the Duncan area, in search of affordable housing.

In the past month, three of the Syrian families who came first to Vancouver were relocated to Vernon, Penticton and Summerland.

Some immigration consultants violating rules of private refugee sponsorship program


Some immigration consultants violating rules of private refugee sponsorship program

Syrians in Gulf states being asked to pay settlement funds that are supposed to be paid by private sponsors

By Laura Lynch, Ghalia Bdiwe, CBC News Posted: Apr 19, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 21, 2016 6:00 PM ET

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John McCallum to investigate immigration consultant fees 2:16
CBC News has learned about a troubling aspect of the drive to bring Syrians to Canada: professional immigration consultants, in partnership with some refugee sponsorship groups, are charging refugees thousands of dollars in arrangements that critics say are unethical and violate federal rules on sponsorship.

The immigration consultants have been targeting Syrians living in the Gulf states, many of whom are there on work permits and are able to earn a living. In that sense, they are potentially a more lucrative client base than those in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The consultants advertise on social media and make visits to the region, setting up shop in five-star hotels.

Arrival at the airport

Edmonton resident Nhung Tran-Davies welcomes a family of Syrian refugees she helped to sponsor in March. Canadians across the country have been raising money to privately sponsor Syrian refugees, but a CBC investigation has found that some Syrians coming from Gulf states are being asked to pay the cost of their resettlement up front by immigration consultants who are also charging thousands of dollars to process their applications. (Terry Reith/CBC)

In the case of one such agency, information available online and documents obtained by CBC News reveal that the consultant is not only charging prospective refugees thousands of dollars to process their applications but also asking them to pay the full cost of their resettlement up front, which violates the financial guidelines of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

“I find it appalling, honestly,” said Toronto lawyer Jackie Swaisland, who is part of a network of lawyers, immigration consultants and law students that has helped hundreds of refugees get to Canada without charging for their services.

Canada has resettled more than 26,000 Syrian refugees since last November, about 9,000 of whom are privately sponsored and another 2,225 of whom receive a combination of government and private funding.

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DARTMOUTH, NS: Syrian family gets $ 9,000 for furniture, spends $3,000 on beds

Syrian refugee family in Dartmouth struggles on $1,350 a month

Family of 8 uses money earmarked for furniture to pay day-to-day bills

By Jean Laroche, CBC News Posted: Mar 09, 2016 5:14 PM AT Last Updated: Mar 09, 2016 5:28 PM AT

Waleed Alghdyan, his wife Amnah and their six children arrived in Nova Scotia on Jan. 19. He's pictured here with his three youngest children.

Waleed Alghdyan, his wife Amnah and their six children arrived in Nova Scotia on Jan. 19. He’s pictured here with his three youngest children. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

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A Syrian refugee now living with his family in Dartmouth is grateful for all the help they’re receiving, but says they’re struggling because living in Canada is far more expensive than he thought.

Waleed Alghdyan, a one-time construction worker, came to Nova Scotia with his wife Amnah and their six children on Jan. 19. They’re among the 694 government-sponsored refugees now living in the province.

The family is glad to be in Canada and out of the refugee camp in Jordan where they lived for more than two and a half years, and where their youngest son was born.

Other immigrants should be accepted but not at expense of employed, settled newcomers, immigration lawyer says

Canada’s immigration plan needs to keep economic focus, Reis Pagtakhan says

Other immigrants should be accepted but not at expense of employed, settled newcomers, immigration lawyer says

By Reis Pagtakhan, for CBC News Posted: Mar 04, 2016 7:00 PM CT Last Updated: Mar 04, 2016 7:00 PM CT

R. Reis Pagtakhan


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum provides an update on the plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada. (CBC News)

The Canadian government will soon set out the types of immigrants the country wants to attract and how large that number will be.

Over the last 10 years, Canadian immigration policy has focused predominantly on bringing in economic immigrants. When the 2016 plan is released, Canadians will find out whether the Liberal government will continue the focus on economic immigrants or whether it will now focus on family immigrants and refugees.

So, why is the overall immigration plan important? This plan is about Canada’s future. Not only will tell us who will be our future neighbours, colleagues, classmates and citizens in 2016, it will also help shape Canada for the generations to come.

The recent announcements by the government that it will accept twice as many parent and grandparent immigration applications and as many as 50,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 seem to indicate the new government’s focus is shifting to family immigrants and refugees.