Mr. Chair, respectful members, thank you for having me here today.
On September 2, 2015, the world woke up to a small child by the name of Alan Kurdi face down on the beach. That's when the rest of the world started to react, to do something with regard to the refugees, having known it had been happening for the last four years. The picture of Alan Kurdi was not new.
One Free World International has been operating with different refugees on the ground for the last 13 years in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria. Next month we will be taking members of Parliament to the Soleimani and the Kobani areas to witness the situation there on the ground, not just helping the refugees here but helping the refugees there as well.
One of the MPs who joined us in the past, Mr. Brad Butt, is behind me here, and I want to acknowledge his presence. In the last year or so there were conversations about the migrant crisis, which is how the media labelled it, but I cannot disagree more. They are not migrants. They are refugees. They are legitimate refugees and that's what we should call them, not migrants. They didn't leave their countries of their own choice. They were forced to leave their home.
Before we speak about resettling the refugees here in Canada, we obviously have to talk about jobs, education, access to health care. There are way more important things before we even get to this point, even before the refugees get on a plane to come to Canada. More issues have to be discussed.
The first step is to discuss the source of the problem. Without dealing with the source of the problem, I can guarantee there will be more refugees. It doesn't matter how many you take here in Canada, there will be more and more refugees. It's not a matter that 25,000 came here to Canada; it's a matter of the five million refugees that are elsewhere right now. Without dealing with the situation in Syria, in Iraq, this issue will not be resolved. Dealing with the source as an international community, as Canadians, as part of NATO is the only way to end this refugee crisis.
The second step is green zones. We've been working very closely with the refugees there. Many of the refugees indicated to us that they don't want to leave their home. It doesn't matter what you want to think about it, but many of the refugees do not want to leave home. They want to be in an area protected by NATO troops, by UN troops, known as a green zone, and to return home if they wish after the war is over. We have to understand it's not easy to leave your home, your roots, your language, your friends, your neighbourhood. Many of these people would love to stay home, but in a protected area known as a green zone.
On the third step, the original resettlement, there's one question I need an answer for. I have no idea why countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Dubai are not taking any of the refugees. Everybody is talking about Europe, Canada and the United States while these Arab Muslim countries are wealthy, share the same language, traditions, culture, even the jokes. If I told you an Egyptian joke right now, you would not laugh. The fact and the reality is that one question that we have to understand and we have to ask the international community is why none of these Arab Muslim countries are taking more refugees and trying to help on the ground.
The resulting regional resettlement we are talking about, what I call the chosen ones, the ones we chose, came to our attention through the work on the ground. Most of the 25,000 Syrian refugees who came to Canada are Sunni Muslims. Now, I don't have a problem with Sunni Muslims.
Listen, I'm a man who used to be in prison. I'm a man who was tortured for his faith back home in Egypt, so I will not be talking to you in political correctness. I will be talking to you in honesty.
It's not about the fact that most if not all of the 25,000 are Sunnis. I don't have a problem with Sunnis, but my question here is why none of them are what we call the vulnerable minority. Why are none of them Christians? Why are none of them Yezidis? Why are none of them Ismailis? Why are none of them Muslim Shiites? Why are none of them Druze?
If today, it was a Conservative government and they brought in 25,000 Christians, we would not hear the end of it. The truth is that I would not even be happy if all of the 25,000 they brought in were Christians, because there are more and more vulnerable minorities that need to be helped.
We have to help the most vulnerable minorities. We cannot be politically correct about it, and we cannot count only on the UNHCR or the United Nations. There are many other organizations on the ground that can also be assets to us and help us. We have to be fair.
When the refugees arrive, there are many challenges they face. At One Free World International, we worked on a closed project with over 600 families here from Syria. We did a project to bring previous refugees to work with the newcomer refugees. We were able to build bridges between old refugees who came here to the country and new refugees who just arrived.