In what has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in close to 70 years, more than 4-million people have fled Syria and 6.6-million are displaced within their own country -- at least half are children.
Though hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been screened and approved for asylum — first by local authorities in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and then by the United Nations Refugee Agency — desperate refugees in the tens of thousands have also flooded European shores without going through proper channels.
Even for the most socially and economically stable countries, integrating refugees is a challenge. Hatred and fear percolate amidst the possibility that refugees and immigrants can’t mirror the character, values or attitudes toward freedom, pluralism and human rights.
While the UN approved 23,000 Syrians to resettle in the USA, Canada committed to accepting close to 25,000. As of February 2016, close to 10,000 had already arrived. For Canada (and other host countries), experts point to the challenges confronting approved applicants:
- 67% arrive without a mastery of either English or French. As a result, there are long wait lists for language-training
- 55% are 14-years of age or younger, mostly schooled in Arabic — and when compared to their peers, typically a year or two behind in their academics — which presents a challenge for the school system
- 53% struggle to find appropriate housing, simply because there are 5-to-8 people in each family unit
- work experience tends to be low-skilled and almost entirely limited to males. As a result, job opportunities may not reflect the skill-sets of the refugees.
As with every host country, there is a pressing need for Canada to live up to their humanitarian responsibilities.