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Dec19FriCouncil believes Canada should choose refugees in light of our capacity and their need, not their religious creed. December 19, 2014
The Canadian Council of Churches, of which The Salvation Army is a member, has signed an interfaith statement, drafted by the Canadian Council for Refugees, on protecting Syrian refugees from religious discrimination. The statement, which was sent yesterday evening to the offices of both the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Prime Minister, is signed by representatives of many of Canada's faith traditions, and urges the federal government to welcome Syrian refugees, regardless of religious affiliation.
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The Syrian conflict is regarded by the United Nations as world's worst humanitarian crisis in 20 years. More than 200,000 people have died and half of Syria's population of 22 million people is homeless. Over 3.2 million Syrian refugees, from all religious groups, have registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in neighbouring countries, with Turkey and Lebanon taking in more than one million people each.
Canada pledged to accept 1,300 Syrians in 2014, but only 200 were government-assisted. The rest were to be sponsored and financed by private community and religious organizations. In comparison, Germany has promised to accept 20,000 refugees; Sweden and Norway (with population bases a quarter and a seventh of Canada's) are taking in 2,700 and 2,500, respectively. The United States has reportedly received about 5,000 Syrian refugees and is prepared to take many more, and Australia has promised to take in 4,400.
In order to save minorities from the threat of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), Canada could end up prioritizing people who have been aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his repression of Sunnis and others, and leaving Assad's Sunni victims in refugee limbo. The Canadian Council of Churches believes Canada should choose refugees in light of our capacity and their need, not their religious creed. Canada is a signatory of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which underlines the principle “that human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms without discrimination.”
Read the Inter-faith statement on Syrian refugees | Déclaration interreligieuse concernant les réfugiés syriens