Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to discuss this important topic and to update the committee on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's work on resettling survivors of Daesh to Canada.
I am joined today by Corinne Prince, director general of IRCC's settlement and integration policy branch, and by Jean-Marc Gionet, the acting senior director of the resettlement operations division. Also joining us today are Sean Boyd, the executive director for Middle East relations, and his colleague Tara Carney.
My colleagues and I will be pleased to answer any of your questions following my brief opening remarks.
As you know, in October of 2016 the House of Commons voted unanimously in support of a motion for the Government of Canada to provide protection to Yazidi women and girls who are fleeing genocide.
As Canada offers protection on the basis of vulnerability, rather than religion or ethnicity, the government's response to this motion focused on all survivors of Daesh for whom resettlement would be an appropriate solution. The government committed to resettling 1,200 survivors of Daesh, including vulnerable Yazidi women and children, by the end of 2017. We have also been prioritizing any applications for privately sponsored refugees who are survivors of Daesh.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has worked closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, resettlement assistance program service provider organizations in Canada, and other partners in order to meet this commitment.
The UNHCR has helped us to identify vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh and their family members, both inside and outside of Iraq.
Mr. Chair, I am happy to report that as of October 29, 807 survivors have already arrived in Canada, 747 as government-assisted refugees and 60 as privately sponsored refugees. Of those 807 individuals, 81% are Yazidi, including 230 women, 178 men, and 398 children. Of all the individuals who arrived in Canada by October 29, 39% came from Iraq, 35% from Lebanon, and 26% from Turkey.
We have identified and interviewed all remaining cases to be resettled. Of the 1,383 individuals who have been referred to us, almost all of the remaining are from Iraq and the applications are all well in process.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada remains committed to meeting the target of resettling 1,200 survivors of Daesh by the end of this year, notwithstanding the fact that operating in the region is complex and can pose risks to the welfare and safety of the refugees, our partners, and our staff.
We continue to monitor political and security developments in the region, and to assess any possible implications this may have on our operation.
We also continue to schedule or reschedule flights for those whose travel was cancelled in September and October due to the ongoing international flight ban out of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Although refusal rates are low, arrivals are sometimes delayed for medical, logistical, or other reasons.
As we mentioned at the outset of this initiative, we don't want to bring these vulnerable individuals to Canada in large groups, as they need added supports that we want to ensure are in place in the receiving communities.
Barring any new, emerging security, exit, or transportation considerations beyond our control, we expect to reach our goal of welcoming 1,200 individuals to Canada by December 31.
In addition to the 1,200 government-assisted refugees that represent the government commitment, we are also facilitating the private sponsorship of individuals who fall within this vulnerable group, so more Yazidi women and girls as well as other survivors of Daesh, are arriving in Canada as privately sponsored refugees.
In choosing where to send new arrivals, we considered the extent to which communities had an existing Yazidi diaspora, adequate medical and psychosocial supports, availability of interpreters, and social service provider organizations with experience with similar population groups.
We also took into consideration the advice of Yazidi leaders in Iraq and Canada who emphasized the importance of connections to the religious community in Canada, allowing for the organic formation of community networks amongst the newly resettled families.
To date, the majority of arrivals under this initiative have been received in Toronto, London, Winnipeg, and Calgary. We anticipate sending individuals and families to Lethbridge as well.
Of course, when applicants identify a connection to another location in Canada, all efforts are made to ensure that they are destined to an area where they can be close to family or friends and be able to receive necessary supports.
To assist our service provider organizations with the settlement and integration needs of this population, migration officers and physicians with the International Organization for Migration identified specific medical and resettlement needs for each individual and this was shared in advance of their arrival. As well, our department developed and circulated a Yazidi population profile detailing demographic and health characteristics as well as cultural considerations for this vulnerable population.
To assist their successful settlement and integration, all government-assisted refugees, including the survivors of Daesh, receive settlement services both pre- and post-arrival. As such, the International Organization for Migration delivers “orientation to Canada” training to all survivors of Daesh before their departure. This orientation provides them with accurate, relevant information and supports, so that they can make informed decisions about their new life in Canada, develop realistic expectations, and begin the settlement process.
In Canada, IRCC-funded resettlement assistance program service providers play a major role in welcoming the survivors of Daesh and providing transportation centres. Their role is to provide post-arrival services to government-supported refugees to address their immediate and essential needs.
Following their initial settlement, the newcomers receive support services from IRCC-funded settlement service providers including, among other things, language training, crisis counselling, and interpretation. There are also targeted services for youth, such as settlement support services in schools, homework clubs, and art and recreation-based activities, that are available.
The organizations here in Canada have been coordinating and sharing lessons learned amongst themselves, as well as our department, to meet the needs of these newcomers. In addition, IRCC-funded local immigration partnerships, known as LIPs, are providing support to survivors of Daesh. These LIPs are playing an important role in facilitating supports during the process of resettling and integrating Syrian refugees. They have partnership networks that aim to coordinate services for newcomers at the local, community level, by bringing together various stakeholders. Those include employers, school boards, health centres, other levels of government, service provider organizations, professional associations, ethnocultural and faith-based organizations, and others in the social services sector.
Finally, the department also monitors progress in meeting our commitment to the resettlement of these newcomers to Canada.
Regular meetings are held at the local level between the department and service providers, to address challenges, discuss progress in addressing our commitment and lessons learned, and any other issues that may need attention. We are engaging these organizations again later this week.
Mr. Chair, I have provided an overview of where our operation to resettle survivors of Daesh currently stands. My colleagues and I will now be happy to answer any questions the committee members might pose, and to provide any further details that members request.
Thank you very much.
I will now make way for my colleague from Global Affairs Canada.