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Syrian Refugee Crisis named CP News Story of the Year

Canada’s immigration minister says 10,000 Syrian refugees will be “certified as Canadian permanent residents” by the end of this year, but there’s no guarantee that all of them will actually be in the country by then.

The Liberals’ original goal was to resettle 25,000 refugees by the end of the year; by November 24, they announced that wasn’t possible and reset the goal to 10,000 refugees by December 31, with another 15,000 to follow by the end of February.

In his weekly update on the refugee resettlement process, John McCallum said 10,000 refugees should have their permanent residency documents in hand by the end of this month. He said that initially there was a “good chance” for achieving the goal by the end of the year, but given the present situation, there are only eight days left to bring in 8,000 refugees.

Those factors include the weather, and refugees’ potential unwillingness to leave on very short notice, McCallum said.

The first flight dedicated to resettling Syrians from Lebanon landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport late on December 10 with 163 people on board.

“For us, every day is new people, new values and new learning…it’s wonderful”, she says.

However, even if the Liberal government doubles Canada’s Syrian refugee intake to 50,000, they will remain just a tiny fraction of almost 4.4 million refugees who have fled their country’s civil war since it began in March 2011. About five planeloads of refugees can land each day, but that has not been happening. “This reaffirms for me Canada must do its part to urgently resettle some of these Syrian refugees to Canada”, said McCallum.

Still, McCallum took issue with a breaking-news headline written by a reporter in the room that said he was admitting they wouldn’t hit the target.

Thought McCallum said a flight was en route to Montreal with 298 additional Syrian refugees, and many more flights will be arriving in what remains of 2015, he couldn’t say exactly how many.

The Syrian refugee crisis became an unexpected focal point of the election campaign after it emerged that the family of a Syrian toddler who drowned had wanted to come to Canada. There will be no flights landing on Christmas Day, McCallum confirmed, but some may be taking off to begin their journey to Canada.

Of those refugees already here, McCallum said 339 are government-assisted refugees, 1,297 are privately sponsored refugees and 233 were “blended” cases.

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