Afghan-Canadians call on federal government to expand Afghan resettlement program

WatchDozens gathered outside the B.C. Legislature Monday morning, calling on the government to take more action to protect Afghans in Afghanistan. Tahmina Aziz has more.

Dozens gathered outside the B.C. Legislature Monday morning, calling on the government to take more action to protect Afghans in Afghanistan.

“We want this same level of support. Anything that safety means to you guys, we want that safety to be applied to our families,” said Asmayal Jawad, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan.

One Victoria resident, who wants to remain anonymous for the safety of her family back home, also says not enough is being done and is pleading for help.

She left the country over concerns for her safety in 2018 and came to Canada as a protected person.

Since landing here, she’s been working on trying to get her husband and daughters to move to Canada as well.

Years later, despite their paperwork nearly finalized, they’re trapped in Kabul.

“If [the] Taliban really knocks on the door and takes them, my husband and my father-in-law and their uncle and kill them in front of the kids, then what?” She cried.

She said she hasn’t been able to eat or sleep. It’s been days and she hasn’t heard from her family who she says would be targeted by the Taliban for working with foreign troops.

“Are they still alive? Because there are guns firing. There’s no facility to sleep. They’re sleepless,” she said.

And that nightmare for many is playing out across our country.

Sheba Yusufzai, the lead Consultant at Olympia Immigration in Toronto, said she’s been receiving hundreds of calls from Afghan-Canadians facing a similar dilemma.

“Every single day, I’ve been getting calls and emails and messages, telling me that ‘my fiancé is stuck. I was about to get married this month or next month and I can’t anymore because of the security situation,'” she said.

Yusufzai is part of the Canadian Campaign for Afghan Peace (CCAP), led by Afghan-Canadians from across the country, calling on the expansion of the Afghan resettlement program as one of their four demands to the government.

The other demands include: providing immediate humanitarian assistance and aid to Afghanistan, engaging in diplomacy on the issue of human rights in Afghanistan and pushing for the rights of girls, women, ethnic and religious minorities to be respected.

While Canada expects to resettle bout 20,000 vulnerable Afghans in a span of several years, they hope to at least double that number annually.

The military’s special forces are operating outside the closed confines of Kabul’s chaotic airport to get people on flights out of Afghanistan, Canadian officials disclosed Monday.

They said a Canadian C-17 Globemaster carried 436 people out of Kabul airport on Sunday night, including Canadian citizens and family members, as well as Afghan nationals accepted for resettlement by Canada and its allies up from the 121 airlifted a day earlier.

“I definitely have hope for these people because I have hope in the Canadian government, in the immigration department and in our immigration officers. They’re working around the close to reunite families. I know they have prioritized family reunification, and that includes sponsoring your spouses and your children,” said Yusufzai.

The hope isn’t lost here on Vancouver Island either as the Afghan mother said she’s going to continue pushing for her family to evacuate safely.

“I wish today I was there with them so that at least if anything could happen, it was all of us together,” she said.

The crisis in Afghanistan is set to be a key issue in next week’s G7 virtual meeting where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would be imposing further sanctions on the Taliban regime along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Tahmina AzizTahmina Aziz

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