Special Policy Guest Post by Nabiha Chowdhury, STAND Policy Researcher

Canada’s federal elections are right around the corner and one of the most discussed topics has been the Syrian refugee crisis and ISIS. What does each party think of these situations? How are they going to tackle ISIS? Are refugees welcome on Canadian soil or not?

STAND Canada recommends that the Canadian government reduce its military efforts and increase foreign aid to the region. This part has become more critical since the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis.  While the plight of the refugees has captured the international media’s attention, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has provided a weak response by promising to welcome only 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.[1] Since the beginning of the crisis, Canada has provided refuge to only 2,500 refugees.[2] To effectively resolve the Syrian crisis, the international community will have to find an alternative to military combat. This is the time for the Canadian government to embrace the country’s legacy of humanitarianism and accept a lot more than 10,000 refugees and accelerate the process of getting accepted refugees into Canada.

Germany has taken much of the responsibility of alleviating the refugee crisis. The German government’s policy towards refugees may lead to that country accepting as many as 1.5 million refugees by the end of 2015, but this has not yet been confirmed by the German government.[3] Canada should follow this model of aid and refuge.

Along with providing a home for Syrian refugees on Canadian soil, Canada also has a responsibility to provide humanitarian aid in Syria and Iraq. Many Syrians and Iraqis want to return to their homelands but cannot do so.  Canada ought to collaborate with international NGOs and humanitarian organizations to provide aid for the two states. The main area of focus for aid should be food, water, health care, and shelter. Reducing military engagement is one way of freeing more funds for humanitarian aid. Compared to the European Union, Canada is not experiencing a major flood of refugees but that is still not a good enough reason for the Canadian government not to take responsibility.

All countries, including Canada, need to join forces with their wealth and resources and allocate aid and refuge for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. With the support of the United Nations, the international community should come up with a clear and concrete plan on how to tackle the refugee crisis, the situation in Iraq and Syria, and, lastly, how to defeat ISIS. The most important task for Canada is for its government to acknowledge that it has a responsibility to Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Canada and the rest of the world cannot continue to ignore the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria. It is time for the international community to work together to end the wars and help bring peace and stability to the Middle East.

Make your voice heard – Sign the Youth Anti-Genocide Declaration here.

References:

[1] Catherine Solyom, “Canada’s Response to Syrian Refugee Crisis Comes under Attack Again,” The Montreal Gazette, October 6, 2015. [link]

[2] Solyom, “Canada’s Response to Syrian Refugee Crisis Comes under Attack Again.” [link]

[3] Kate Connolly, “Refugee Crisis: Germany Creaks Under Strain of Open Door Policy,” The Guardian, October 8, 2015. [link]

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