Iraqi refugees who now call Canada home will play a major role in helping Afghans being resettled in Canada, new data released by Statistics Canada. In the first two months of 2020, there were more than 4,400 new Afghan arrivals in Canada, the highest numbers since the end of Operation Medusa. And for the next five years, government programs will resettle tens of thousands of additional Afghan newcomers.
The Canadian government’s plan to shelter nearly 30,000 war refugees in Canada over the next five years will cost the federal treasury an estimated $3.2 billion, based on a $685 million expansion of the refugee program that will be financed with both government and private donor funds.
The original plan was for Canada to house 22,400 refugees in the fall of 2015 as Operation Medusa came to an end. The Canadian government now calls for a fund of $3.4 billion to house 30,000 refugees over the next five years. Funding for various security and health vetting processes, such as health and security checks, has been estimated at $181 million. A variety of other public safety and migration related services—including $138 million for case management—will contribute an additional $512 million.
The top officials behind Operation Medusa were George Condon of the RCMP, Charles Manning, interim director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, U.S. authorities and then-Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier. Operation Medusa was touted by the media as a success but leaked out of media outlets as a somewhat larger deal than first reported.
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On Monday, Kurdish commanders confirmed that ISIS was retreating from four cities in northern Iraq and that Kurdish peshmerga forces held on to the town of Tal Afar, the last large city they held in the country. Pentagon officials also acknowledged that ISIS was losing control of the oil-rich Badush oil field and the Al Zuwayez oil fields. All of this means that the war against ISIS and the US-led coalition has shifted from the air strikes and political struggle to the bottom-up fight to keep Sunni areas under Kurdish control and keep their oil fields.
Given the size of the ongoing and growing refugee crisis and the commitment of large sums of taxpayers’ dollars to assist people fleeing war, the question is where will the Canadian government find room for Afghan refugees?
Canadian immigration officials have attempted to deflect this question, saying that Canada has successfully integrated those refugees the past two years. As immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said, the new group will be new people and that Canadian public health services and health care systems will continue to be ready to meet them.
Help for Afghanistan
In 2015, it was estimated that more than 400,000 Afghan refugees were in Pakistan and one third of those refugees were fighting ISIS and the Taliban.
The refugees are expected to bring in their own medical attention, help operating theatres in their home provinces and contribute to the gross domestic product of their home country.
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The new refugee program will not be open to any known terrorists or those previously known to the Canadian government as a security risk, because even those who made it through security checks will have to undergo additional vetting before being accepted into Canada.
“Canada’s resettlement program for Afghans has been successful and we have no plans to alter it,” said government spokesman Karl Sasseville. “Those new numbers are expected to add to the resettlements already in place.”
The numbers of Pakistani refugees who were granted asylum have dropped, however, with estimates putting the number of Afghan refugees arriving as of February of this year at just over 4,400.
Ranil Paul is a Canadian journalist who specializes in Iran, Pakistan and global affairs. He is also a Contributing Reporter at The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter at @ranilpaul.