TORONTO Following months of promises and weeks of preparation, the first planeload of Syrian refugees was headed to Canada on Thursday, aboard a military plane to be met at Toronto’s airport by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau’s newly elected Liberal government scaled back the quantity of Syrian migrants it will accept by year end right after the attacks in Paris sparked concern that bringing in 25,000 by Dec. 31 – an election promise – would not enable adequate time for safety checks.
Some 300 Syrian refugees were expected to arrive on two military flights, the initial arriving in Toronto on Thursday and the second in Montreal on Saturday. Trudeau has stated ten,000 will be resettled by the finish of the year and a additional 15,000 by the end of February.
Toronto’s mayor tweeted a welcome, while the Toronto Star, the nation’s biggest newspaper, covered its front page with a “Welcome to Canada” banner headline in English and Arabic, along with an report explaining Canadian climate, ice hockey and quirky nearby slang.
The Syrians’ reception in Canada contrasted sharply with that of the neighboring United States, where worry of Syrian refugees following the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks spurred opposition to enabling them in. Some U.S. governors mentioned their states would not accept Syrian refugees.
Canadian refugee groups and private sponsors said they have been excited and scrambling to prepare for the arrival of the households, who have been chosen from camps in Lebanon and Jordan following fleeing Syria’s four-year-old civil war.
“Every person is excited. We will be prepared,” stated Lorig Garboushian-Katrjian, a coordinator at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, which has helped sponsor 71 refugees arriving on the very first plane.
With security issues, immigration paperwork and the flight’s late-evening arrival, most sponsors and family members will not be capable to meet the refugees at the airport, but the government has arranged for the refugees to keep overnight at nearby hotels, Garboushian-Katrjian stated.
She mentioned she had spoken to some of the families just before they boarded the plane and said no 1 minds the extra evening in a hotel.
“They mentioned they are OK, no issue, one particular far more day, it will not count compared to the 3 or 4 years that have passed,” she stated in a telephone interview. “It is the final destination for them to commence a new life.”
Although one particular provincial premier and some opposition politicians initially stated Trudeau was accepting as well many refugees too speedily, his decision to push back the timeline by two months silenced much of the criticism.
Trudeau was elected to a surprise majority in October promising to accept more refugees far more rapidly than the preceding Conservative government.
(Further reporting and writing by Andrea Hopkins in Toronto and David Ljunngren in Ottawa Editing by Jonathan Oatis)