Vancouver-Canada is responding as quickly as possible to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan by helping bring Afghan citizens and their families safely to their new home. We remain firm in our commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan nationals, and our partnerships with provinces, territories and settlement service providers across the country are key to achieving this goal.
The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that over 200 Afghan refugees landed in Vancouver last night. This marks the largest flight to date of Afghan nationals arriving in BC. Approximately 161 of them will start their new lives in Vancouver, while the other 48 will settle elsewhere in the country, where they have family ties. This brings the total number of Afghan refugees who have arrived in Canada to over 7,000.
Passengers on the charter flight, which departed from Islamabad, Pakistan, are primarily individuals whose employment involved a significant or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, as well as their families.
Throughout this major venture, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has relied on the tremendous support of IRCC-funded Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organizations (RAP SPOs), which have delivered essential services for newcomers and refugees.
The new arrivals were greeted at the Vancouver International Airport by Community Airport Newcomers Network, a RAP SPO program provided by S.U.C.C.E.S.S, a non-profit organization. This program provides winter clothing, arranges transportation and offers initial orientation to newcomers and their families.
Over the next few weeks, these refugees will receive support from the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISSofBC), a RAP SPO whose work is essential to helping refugees adjust to life in Canada. ISSofBC helps refugees find housing and provides information about finding a job, improving their language skills and living in Canada.
In November 2021, the BC government announced the Refugee Readiness Fund, a $2 million fund to help boost local services and supports for families resettling in BC due to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The fund will ensure that communities in the province are ready to welcome and respond to the needs of Afghan refugees.
Since Afghan refugees first started arriving in Canada in August 2021, IRCC has been helping them connect with communities where settlement supports are already in place, giving consideration to whether they have family members in Canada, as well as the availability of schools, housing and language training.