Canada fast-tracking Ukrainian refugees, but many Afghans still wait | CBC News


The conflict in Ukraine compelled Lina Borets and her seven-year-old son, Tymur, to flee their residence metropolis of Dnipro on a commuter practice earlier this month. When it skirted too near Russian forces, she and different passengers have been instructed to not use their cell telephones and all of the lights have been turned off to keep away from detection.

“I instructed him that it was time to sleep,” she recalled in an interview from an condominium unit in Wroclaw, Poland, the place they’re at present sheltered by a Polish household. “He believed me as a result of it was darkish outdoors.”

Borets has not defined something in regards to the conflict to her son, as an alternative pretending they’re on trip. 

“I did not need him to go by means of that trauma,” she mentioned, although she is certain he will need to have questions on why his father, who stayed behind in case he’s known as to battle, has not come alongside.

The pair utilized for a vacationer visa to return to Canada with the help of her husband’s aunt, who lives in Vancouver and helped get necessary papers like delivery certificates translated and authorized. With their paperwork all submitted, they’re now anxiously awaiting a response, which might take as much as 36 days. 

Borets and her son Tymur on their practice journey from Ukraine to Poland. Wishing to defend him from the trauma of conflict, she instructed him they have been on vacation. (Lina Borets )

However there’s a new course of, which was launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on Thursday, that will probably enable Ukrainians to be in Canada in as little as two weeks. The emergency immigration program would let Ukrainian refugees keep right here for as much as three years, and apply for open working permits.

“It is really a really thrilling response that Canada is trying to supply visas, short-term visas, to Ukrainians,” mentioned Janet Dench, the chief director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

However her group is hoping a few of these measures created by the Canadian authorities to assist Ukrainian refugees is also utilized to the myriad different crises around the globe. 

Dench says it will be good for the federal government to have a framework with goal standards for all refugees as an alternative of “being responsive based mostly on a standards resembling what will get most media protection or who has the most effective political connections in Ottawa to get the federal government to reply.”

Afghan households caught ready

Mohammad Nasimi and his youngsters pose within the resort room in Islamabad the place they’re staying, till they’ll transfer to Canada. (Mohammad Nasimi )

The hope for extra consideration was echoed by a number of Afghan households caught ready in Islamabad, Pakistan, many since October. Hundreds of Afghans fled after the Taliban took over when the U.S. withdrew its troops from the nation final August. About 40 households reside in limbo in that metropolis, ready to return to Canada.

“Now we’re having a nasty time, and no one’s there for us,” mentioned Mohammad Nasimi, who resides in a single resort room together with his spouse and 6 youngsters. 

Nasimi labored with a bomb-detection crew for Canadian Armed Forces for a number of years, despatched forward of diplomatic delegations on roads the place the Taliban have been prone to have laid explosives. 

“Working with the Canadian Armed Forces and the Worldwide Safety Help Power at the moment was risking, each second, your life,” he mentioned, recalling that when he spoke together with his dad and mom on the time, they might inform him, ‘We by no means, ever thought that you’ll come again residence.'” 

Net of pink tape

Nasimi and his household crossed over into Pakistan in October, fleeing for his or her lives, fearful that the Taliban might search revenge. However they and the opposite households do not feel secure in Islamabad, both. 

“[Pakistan] was encouraging the world to acknowledge Taliban,” he mentioned. “Why would you say that? How will you acknowledge individuals who slaughtered human beings?”

Like many others, Nasimi’s household has already accomplished a lot of his paperwork, and gotten obligatory fingerprint ID and retinal scans executed. He mentioned the Canadian embassy has referred him to Pakistani officers for exit interviews earlier than he can fly to Canada. 

It was the identical for Asad Ali Afghan and his household, who’re renting a small condominium unit in Islamabad, anxious the scarce funds he escaped with will run out earlier than authorities in Canada and Pakistan lower by means of the pink tape.

“If you do not have a correct place to reside, if you do not have correct meals to eat, your youngsters can be sick.”

Assistance on the best way, Ottawa says

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser, pictured in October, 2021. He insists the federal authorities can reside as much as its obligations to each Ukrainians and Afghans making an attempt to maneuver right here. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The federal authorities mentioned it isn’t buckling below the pressure of fulfilling obligations to Afghans and Ukrainians concurrently.

However since August of final 12 months, simply 8,815 Afghans have arrived in Canada. And based on the immigration division, 9,000 Ukrainians have come to the nation since simply the beginning of January, greater than a 3rd of them since Russia’s invasion.

“That is the form of factor the place the competing crises around the globe demand that we reply to each,” mentioned Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in an interview with CBC Information. 

The division additionally pointed to variations between every group. In a press release, it mentioned a variety of elements are out of its full management on the Afghanistan matter, resembling the shortage of a safely functioning airport in Kabul. 

Fraser additionally says there are difficulties in a few of Afghanistan’s neighbouring nations that may end up in obstacles to serving to individuals depart.

“To the extent we are able to proceed to work with our companions within the area, be it Pakistan or others, we’ll proceed.” 

In the meantime, in a press release, the Canada Employment and Immigration Union, which represents Immigration Canada staff, additionally identified Ukrainians and Afghans aren’t essentially utilizing the identical streams to reach right here.

WATCH | Canada has fast-tracked entry to Canada for Ukrainians:

Criticism over Canada’s determination to fast-track immigration course of for Ukrainians

Ukrainian refugees can be allowed to remain in Canada for as much as three years below a brand new emergency immigration program that some advocates argue ought to’ve additionally been offered to Afghan refugees. 2:08

“Whereas somebody coming from Afghanistan was mechanically filtered by means of the Refugee Program, Ukraine is seeing far more uptake of household reunification and momentary residency requests,” it mentioned. 

It additionally famous Canada has the third-highest inhabitants of Ukrainians outdoors of Ukraine. “Thus many have visited relations or might have already been an applicant. These individuals don’t must repeat the entire course of, so the touchdown is far sooner.”

However the union warned of future bottlenecks as soon as arrivals by means of these streams come to an finish, and extra Ukrainians begin having to undergo the refugee system. 

“We might find yourself with a state of affairs just like the one which occurred in Afghanistan,” it mentioned. 

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