Mr. Speaker, given the regional instability caused by the conflict in Syria, 40 countries participating in the Berlin conference on October 28, including Canada, acknowledged in their communiqué the importance of increasing humanitarian aid to Syria and the entire region.
Yesterday, at the Security Council, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs described a situation that demonstrates the lack of support from member countries to the humanitarian tragedy that is affecting the Syrian people in Syria and in neighbouring countries, including Lebanon.
Since the spring of 2011, more than three million Syrian refugees have been received by neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. These countries are facing a huge challenge. The countries concerned and the UN High Commission for Refugees called for increased international support in order to cope with the refugee crisis and warned against the threat of a humanitarian disaster.
I remind members that there are more than one million displaced Syrians in Lebanon, a country of about four million people. It is clear that the international community, which includes Canada, is not doing enough. Right now, 40% of Syrians in need—of a total of 12.2 million civilians—are not being reached by UN humanitarian assistance and humanitarian operations. The UN would need $2.9 billion to fund these operations. However, UN agencies have received less than half of this amount, as their pleas went unanswered last year. They did not even get what they wanted. Hundreds of thousands of people without any financial means were left out in the cold this winter.
Another important issue, which was recognized by the signatories of the Berlin communiqué, is the need to increase opportunities for repatriation, resettlement and humanitarian admission of refugees. Canada has a poor record in that regard. At the ministerial conference on resettlement and other forms of admission for Syrian refugees, which took place on December 9, 2014, in Geneva, we learned that Germany had taken in approximately 20,000 Syrian refugees. According to the Swiss ambassador to the United Nations, his country has given asylum to 10,000 Syrian refugees. However, in two years, Canada has been unable to resettle 1,300 refugees. What is more, the minister recently announced that Canada would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees by 2018. That may seem like a worthwhile announcement, but one has to wonder how that will be done since we have yet to take in even 1,300 refugees. In any case, we do not know how many have been allowed in. One has to wonder how the government will live up to that announcement given the fiasco with the 1,300 refugees. How can we still believe that this government is acting in good faith?
In closing, once the conditions for return are known, will Canada provide financial support for the repatriation and resettlement of Syrians who want to return to their country?