NEWS

Syrian-Montrealers ask Canada to help bring families over

06/26/2013 07:52 EDT | Updated 08/26/2013 05:12 EDT
Syrian-Montrealers held a protest Wednesday in front of some federal offices, demanding the Canadian government help bring their relatives in the war-torn country to Canada.

Maria Mourani, the MP for Ahuntsic, said current government policies force Syrian-Canadians to choose between separating from their families or risking their lives to stay together.

“It’s impossible to think that they would leave the child there and come to Canada. So this is disgusting,” Mourani said.

It’s the case for Marie Farah’s family in Syria. Her nephew’s children are all Canadian citizens, except for one.

“They can’t go out on the windows, on the balcony. They can’t. We don’t know if they will be shot,” she said.

McGill student and Syrian-Canadian Lahoue Douma is in a similar position.

He said his relatives are stranded at a refugee camp in Lebanon, and despite repeated requests, they haven’t been permitted to come to Canada.

"It's really hard to eat, they can't sleep. Their house in Syria has been destroyed, so they can't return there either. So they can't do anything, they're stuck in the camp,” Douma said.

More than 100,000 people have been killed by the violence in Syria, and over a million have fled the country since the war broke out just over two years ago.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was unavailable for comment, but his office did issue a statement.

It said the ministry “is developing plans for resettlement of a limited number of Syrian refugees...However, as Minister Kenney has stressed, resettlement is not and cannot be a realistic solution to the Syrian refugee crisis…"

But members of the opposition say the minister is doing too little, too late.

Ève Péclet, a Quebec MP and the NDP deputy critic for foreign affairs, criticized the Conservative government for not moving faster in an emergency situation.

"Why not have an emergency process where we could fast track those immigration files, so we can right now help those people who are suffering from war?" she said.

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