Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have announced a new program that offers refuge to Afghans that were integral to Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan.
“So many Afghan citizens put themselves at risk to assist Canada, both during and after our military mission in Afghanistan. Now they face even greater threats from the Taliban, and we are doing everything possible to bring them to safety. Lives hang in the balance, which is why we’re taking timely and decisive action to support the Afghans who supported Canada, and offer them a future in this country. Canada will do right by those who did so much for us.”– The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
How will these applicants be identified?
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Department of National Defence (DND) will be identifying and assisting individuals eligible for resettlement in Canada under this initiative. Once an eligible applicant has been identified, IRCC will begin expedited processing immediately. All applicants must still meet the standard IRCC admissibility requirements for security, health, and criminality.
Who is eligible through this initiative?
Eligible Afghan applicants at risk for working with the Canadian Armed Forces may include the following:
- interpreters who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces;
- construction workers;
- security guards; and
- locally engaged staff employed at the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan
Qualifying candidates may also include their family members.
Response to growing pressure
This announcement comes as the U.S. withdraws its military presence from Afghanistan and Taliban insurgents continue to make territorial gains. As a result, Canada has received increasing pressure to provide support to Afghans who helped the Canadian Armed Forces in their mission against the Taliban.
Canada had previously implemented a similar measure in 2009. The former initiative facilitated immigration for certain local Afghan staff in Kandahar that faced injury or risk to their lives due to of their work with the Canadian government. The program ended two years later, resettling over 800, but leaving behind thousands of former interpreters and their families.
One Afghan interpreter in Helmund recently took to YouTube to express how he had risked his life alongside Canadian soldiers from 2011 to 2012, questioning why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not doing more to bring his family to safety.
“Mr. Trudeau, I am a father. My daughter is a year-and-a-half old. From one father to another, I beg you to please help me and my family to get out of Afghanistan before the Taliban find us,”
IRCC will not be releasing the identities of those who will be resettled. This is to ensure the safety and privacy of applicants’ extended families that remain in Afghanistan.
The specifics of Canada’s operational matters will also not be released for security reasons.