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UN, Canadian agencies retool plans in wake of changes to Syrian refugee program

OTTAWA — A beep on their mobile phones in the coming days will be how thousands of Syrian refugees will find out they may have a chance at a new life in Canada.

But agencies overseas and in Canada are being forced to revamp what happens after that in the wake of the Liberal announcement of how the government intends to meet a promise to resettle 25,000 people.

Both the UN and Red Cross say they were caught somewhat off-guard by the news Tuesday that the original year-end deadline for the program has been tossed aside, along with a plan to process refugees both abroad and in Canada.

In Jordan, officials with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had begun weeks ago to identify and process some 7,000 Syrian refugee cases so they could be in Canada by the end of the year.

Meanwhile in Canada, the Red Cross had been getting ready to help manage thousands of people living temporarily in mass housing while security processing continued, but that's no longer the plan.

But both groups say they're now waiting to hear exactly what's required of them in the immediate future to implement what both say is an enormously important and meaningful program.

The Canadian Press

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