Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum stated on Thursday that Canada missed a target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 as only 6,000 displaced people have arrived in the country so far.
However, he said another 4,000 are expected to enter Canada by mid-January.
“I am confident that the full 10,000 will have landed in two weeks from today, and also that 25,000 will have arrived in Canada by the end of the February,” McCallum said during his speech at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
"It is better to do it well and fast, but doing it well is the highest priority," he continued.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, which took office on November 4, 2015, promised during its election campaign to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by January 1, 2016.
However it pushed back the date, saying it would take in 10,000 before 2016 and leave the remaining 15,000 for the end of February because of security concerns triggered by the Paris terror attacks which killed 130 people in November.
“I think we can be proud of our achievements,” the minister, who previously had warned that the target might not be reached by the end of December 2015, said when he was asked about the government’s inability to finalise its initial refugee plan.
"We identified 25,000 as committed. We have fully processed over 10,000 by the end of the year, as promised. We will certainly deliver 25,000 refugees by the end of February. The only discrepancy is a delay of two weeks in welcoming the first 10,000 refugees to our shores," he continued.
"I would say we largely met our promises."
McCallum also stated that over the next year the country will accept between 29,000 and 44,000 Syrian refugees, for a total 35,000 to 50,000 since Trudeau's government took office.
The Syrian civil war, which started in 2011, has forced half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million people to flee to the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey - which currently hosts the largest number of refugees.