Update on Afghan RefugeesSeptember 2, 2021
The Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI) has started welcoming Afghan refugees who are choosing to make Ottawa their new home. 43 people have already arrived in the city, and more are expected in the coming days. CCI has dispatched a team that is working tirelessly to ensure these new Ottawa residents have all they need to start a new life. It is not an easy task considering we are in the middle of the pandemic and public health measures must be respected. The following are answers to some of the questions you may have about the settlement of the Afghan refugees in Ottawa.
What are the current efforts to welcome Afghan refugees?
Currently, we have a small team working at a hotel in Kanata. We’re housing the Afghan families there because they’ve already done their 14-day quarantine and received their first shot of the COVID vaccination. Normally, we would welcome newcomers at Reception House. However, those folks are still doing their quarantine, so that’s why the Afghan citizens are at a hotel. Also, by having a small field team at the hotel, we can quickly help them with any questions they have and ensure they feel safe and at home.
How many have arrived in Ottawa? And how many are expected in total?
We have 43 people with us at the moment. We know more are coming. However, IRCC has not indicated when or how many. What complicates matters is that the situation in Afghanistan is very unstable. Canada had to end its evacuation project a few days earlier than anticipated. However, Canada is still committed to bringing 20,000 Afghan residents to Canada.
Any unique needs that specific to Afghan refugees?
Like all refugees, they need housing. And that’s our priority. The sooner we can find a home for them, the sooner we can fully implement the settlement and integration process. Some will need language training. Others will need help finding employment. We need to help them with every day activities, such as where to shop, how to use public transit, find a family physician and so on. Also, we want them to feel at home. We want to connect them to Canadian volunteers who will be there to help them adjust to life in a new city and a new country.
What are the challenges to successful settlement of these refugees?
Again, this is common to a lot of refugees, but one of the challenges is managing expectations. As happy as they are to be in a new country and to be safe, there is undoubtedly some anxiety. They have left friends and family members behind. They are worried about their country. They want their children to have a bright future in Canada. They want to contribute to Canada, find jobs, pay their taxes, be part of the community. But sometimes that takes time.
If people want to help, where should they go?
They should go to www.cciottawa.ca. On our home page we have a link to an FAQ that will answer the most common questions we have about our Afghan resettlement efforts. They can also visit www.cciottawa.ca/donate if they would like to make a financial contribution. Although the government does cover the bulk of resettlement costs, there are other programs we will offer to the Afghan refugees that are funded by donors. We rely on financial donations to ensure all newcomers receive the full slate of services they deserved. Our goal is to build a more welcoming community and we need the community’s support.