Canada challenged as the number of refugees explodes in the world
< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">In 2022, around 100,000 refugees arrived on Italian shores.
The United Nations is bracing for a further increase in the number of refugees this year, as last month's earthquake in Turkey and Syria adds to a series of crises that have the world turning to Canada for more help.
The needs around the world are enormous, said Kelly Clements, United Nations Deputy Commissioner for Refugees, during a #x27;a visit to Canada this week.
This is the start of another very difficult year.
Ms Clements was on tour in the Middle East last month when the earthquake hit. She headed for the major Syrian city of Aleppo immediately afterwards.
UN Deputy Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements was in Canada this week.
She said the tremors woke United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff in the early hours of February 6. They went out into the street, ending up in the snow with only their night clothes on.
Some of our colleagues lost their homes or belongings and were worried about their families. relatives. Despite this, everyone was back in the office the same day, she said.
You can see inside apartment buildings, see personal belongings, people's clothes, mirrors on the wall, dressers, etc., Ms. Clements recounted.
The Syrian civil war has been going on since 2011 and parts of Aleppo were already in ruins, she pointed out.
Many parts of Syria are under the control of warring groups, making the country's intervention much slower than the mobilization of the Turkish government. It took a week for the Syrian government to ease its policy of tough border restrictions, which delayed the arrival of humanitarian aid.
Already scarred by war, Aleppo was shaken by an earthquake. (File photo)
However, UNHCR was able to concentrate on providing housing for the victims. Ms. Clements said the agency needs funding to run programs for children separated from their families and to protect women from violence.
“Our biggest concern is that when the spotlight is no longer on the earthquake response, the needs will still be there even if the shaking is over. »
— Kelly Clements, United Nations Deputy Commissioner for Refugees
These are people who will need the long-term support of the international community to rebuild their lives. It's not just about rebuilding structures, said the UNHCR Deputy Commissioner.
Syria had 21 million citizens when the civil war broke out 12 years ago. Today, 6.8 million Syrians are displaced and 5 million are refugees in other countries.
Across the border, 1.5 million Syrians end up in Lebanon where a fifth of residents are refugees from other states, the highest proportion in the world.
Kelly Clements, a former American diplomat in Beirut, remembers bringing his own medicine on a recent visit, due to the lack of supplies in the country.
Lebanon had been in a political stalemate for years, ever since much of its main port blew up in 2020. Inflation has impoverished nearly all refugees in the country, as well as many Lebanese citizens, says Clements.
She notes that Lebanese are also fleeing their own country on makeshift boats and that the death toll at sea has tripled from 2021 to 2022.< /p>
Meanwhile, another conflict in Yemen has spawned disaster, as a global appeal for help reached only a third of its target this week.
Medical needs are dire, especially in Yemen. (File photo)
The UN requested US$4.3 billion to restore adequate food, water and health services, but only received US$1.2 billion in a donors' conference on Monday.
The country is beset by a violent civil war, an economic blockade and increasingly severe natural disasters. According to Save the Children, the lack of funding will negatively impact the lives of millions of children in Yemen and the long-term stability of the country.
On Monday, Canada's Minister for International Development, Harjit Sajjan, announced $46 million in funding as part of its ongoing response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
He fell largely off the radar of the international community, and still in dire need of humanitarian support, Clements said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counted 65 million displaced people worldwide in 2015, a figure that has exploded past 100 million and is expected to reach 120 million by the end of 2023. according to conservative estimates.
Ms Clements praised Canada for being a major donor to UNHCR and for resettling some of the refugees the world's most vulnerable whose needs cannot be met in many developing countries.
However, she hopes that the Canadian contribution will increase in the next federal budget.
“We need Canada to be with us even more in 2023 than in 2022.”
—Kelly Clements, Deputy Commissioner United Nations Refugee Agency
Meanwhile, closer to home, the rise in the number of asylum seekers entering Canada via Roxham Road is prompting Quebec to Urge Ottawa to close this unofficial border crossing.
Many asylum seekers go through Roxham Road, in Montérégie, to enter Canada. (File photo)
The federal government has flown hundreds of asylum seekers to Ontario as Quebec media have highlighted the lack of housing in Montreal for new arrivals.
While Ms. Clements does not follow Canadian politics, she says she is confident the country will remain open to helping those in need.
Canada has always been an incredibly generous country, welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and others with open arms, she said.
I am convinced that Canada can find ways to continue to welcome those in need of its international protection, she concluded.