The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, and the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, today, issued the following statement:
“Tomorrow, we mark one year since Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban. In this past year, we have witnessed the hardships endured by the Afghan people, with some having undergone harrowing journeys to flee the country and countless others living in fear of persecution and retribution, and under severe human rights and freedom restrictions.
“Last year, alongside our international partners, Canada undertook the complex mission to evacuate Canadians, permanent residents and vulnerable Afghans, including those who supported Canada’s work. Canadian Armed Forces personnel, diplomatic, consular and immigration officials worked tirelessly alongside partners in the region to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for these individuals and family members, and we would like to thank them for their service to Canada.
“Faced with a heart-wrenching situation in Afghanistan, Canadians opened their hearts to help people rebuild their lives and more than 17,300 Afghans have arrived in Canada over the past year. We call on the Taliban to uphold its commitment to and comply with the United Nations Security Council resolution on safe passage out of Afghanistan for foreign nationals and Afghans.
“Over the course of the last two decades, Canada has helped Afghans achieve significant gains in democracy, human rights, education and health. These advances and hard-won freedoms could not have been possible without the contribution of Afghans-including, and in particular, women and girls-who participated in democratic political processes and enjoyed a free media in their country.
“In the aftermath of the fall of Afghanistan, we have witnessed the steady deterioration of these gains in human and democratic rights of Afghans, in particular those of women, girls, members of minority groups and journalists. Canada condemns the Taliban’s suppression of women’s liberty in Afghanistan. The Taliban must honour Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations, lift restrictive measures on women and girls-including those measures touching on freedom of movement, freedom of speech and education-and restore women and girls’ meaningful participation in Afghan civil society and in the building of Afghanistan’s future. Let us be clear: we have no intention of recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan and we will continue to judge the Taliban by its actions, not by its words.
“We will continue to pursue engagement with the international community to support and press for an inclusive and representative political settlement in Afghanistan, adherence to international human rights obligations and a commitment against terrorism.
“We remain gravely concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and we will continue to do all that we can to support the Afghan people, especially women, girls and members of minority groups. The Taliban takeover has made the delivery of assistance more complex. We call on the Taliban to ensure continued safe, rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian partners-including women staff members-to all parts of Afghanistan. Despite this, since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Canada has provided $156 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries with $143 million provided in 2022 alone. Working through independent, experienced and trusted humanitarian partners, Canada’s assistance has enabled the delivery of life-saving services, such as nutrition and support for emergency health care, clean water and sanitation.
“We remain steadfast in our collective resolve to bring vulnerable Afghans to safety in Canada as quickly as possible.
“On this day, we honour the significant sacrifices made by the Afghan people who worked toward a more peaceful, just and secure future for Afghanistan. We also remember the important contributions made by Canadians in advancing Afghanistan’s path to peace and security, in particular the 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, a Canadian diplomat, a Department of National Defence contractor, and a Canadian journalist embedded with the Canadian Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“We are committed to the people of Afghanistan and their aspirations for a stable, secure and peaceful future.”
- Canada’s response to the situation in Afghanistan includes our plan to resettle at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans to Canada, which is one of the largest commitments around the world. Over half of this commitment focuses on those who assisted Canada, including 18,000 spaces for the Special Immigration Measures program for Afghan nationals and their families who closely assisted the Government of Canada, as well as 5,000 spaces for the extended family members of Afghan interpreters who came to Canada under earlier programs. Additional resettlement will come through the humanitarian stream, which includes both government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees, including women leaders, human rights defenders, persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQI people and journalists. Since August 2021, Canada has welcomed over 17,300 Afghan nationals with more arriving in the coming weeks and months.
- Since August 2021, Canada has provided $156 million in humanitarian assistance funding to help address the immediate needs of vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.
- Through Operation AEGIS, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the Government of Canada’s effort to evacuate Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and Afghans with significant or enduring relationships with the Government of Canada, along with their accompanying family members.