NEWS

Iraq mission expansion into Syria misguided, say Vancouver Syrians

03/25/2015 11:00 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT
Two Syrians now living in Vancouver say Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion to expand the fight against ISIS into Syria is misguided and will only cause more harm for people living there.

The prime minister is proposing to expand and extend Canada's initial six-month military mission in Iraq and asking for support for an additional one-year air mission against ISIS.

On the Coast spoke with two Syrians who now call Vancouver home about the proposed expansion.

"The problem is that everyone is dealing with the situation in Syria as a military situation," said Danny Ramadan, a journalist who was born in Syria and moved to Canada several months ago. "The truth is it's a humanitarian crisis."

Need for humanitarian aid

Ramadan said it's unfortunate that Canada is sending bombs to Syria, instead of helping more people with basic needs like food, water and shelter.

"Canada has always played a role of international peacekeeper," said Ramada. "I don't understand why humanitarian efforts are not the first priority when dealing with the situation in Syria."

Harper noted in his speech at the House of Commons on Tuesday morning that Canada's contribution isn't limited to the Canadian Armed Forces.

"We have also been helping to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, with food, water, shelter and protection," said Harper. "There is no either/or here between military action and humanitarian aid. The situation desperately needs both and Canada has been vigorously providing both."

Riam, a volunteer with Canadian Relief for Syria (CBC agreed to not use his last name to protect his family in Syria), says the situation in Syria is "dire."

But he says most of the bloodshed and destruction there is caused by the Assad regime, not ISIS. He says the real cause of ISIS is unrest caused by oppression from the Assad Regime.

"You either treat the symptoms or the root cause of it," said Riam.

Accepting more Syrian refugees

Ramadan hopes to see Canada accept more Syrians into the country.

"Canada is capable of accepting many of the Syrian refugees here and helping them create an international community for themselves where they can't represent their country and try to help it from afar," said Ramadan.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander recently announced that Canada will resettle 10,000 more Syrian refugees over the next three years in direct response to the United Nations Refugee Agency's global appeal to resettle 100,000 refugees worldwide.

The announcement came on the heels of intense criticism by immigration groups who said the government was not doing enough after the country fell behind on its previous commitment to take in 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Syrians in Vancouver respond to proposed expansion of anti-ISIS air strikes into Syria

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