First plane carrying Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada

Planeload of refugees coming from Lebanon and Jordan expected to arrive in Toronto today

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Syrian refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp, in Jordan near the border with Syria.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that the first aircraft bringing Syrian refugees from camps in Lebanon and Jordan will arrive in Toronto on Thursday.

Canadian media said that the prime minister will be at the airport to greet the refugees personally. Another aircraft is supposed to arrive in Montreal at Saturday, the prime minister said.

"Resettling refugees demonstrates our commitment to Canadians and the world that Canada understands we can and must do more," said Trudeau.

Around 300 refugees will arrive in the two flights out of the 10,000 Syrian refugees which Canada is planning to resettle by the end of 2015. Canada plans to welcome another 25,000 by the end of February. The first groups of arrivals will receive the benefit of being privately sponsored.

Canada also plans to accept some Syrian refugees from Turkey but the transition process will take longer than in Jordan and Lebanon, according to John McCallum, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has referred more than 8.5 thousand Syrians to Canadian officials for interviews as of December, 3.

Canadian officials are interviewing more than 800 refugees each day in Beirut and Amman, said McCallum.  

McCallum announced on Wednesday that the preliminary budget for the program is $698 million.

Trudeau promised during his election campaign to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by Jan 1, but the government acknowledged last month that the target is hard to cope with.

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.

TRTWorld and agencies