The committee representing 20 local area churches questions the federal government’s varying reasons why hundreds, perhaps thousands of refugee families sponsored by churches across Canada are still waiting for travel approval.
Many of these families have been in refugee camps for years, vetted and fully sponsored by churches and private individuals. The Prime Minister stated that the 25,000 refugees rushed into Canada in a matter of weeks would not “jump the line”.
Our local MP’s office first claimed the delay was caused by the previous government cutting staff. Next it was the Lebanese government being slow to grant exit visas and once received the necessary travel tickets would be purchased. They “continue to look into the matter”.
The Lebanese embassy in Ottawa was contacted, and a staff member was noncommittal regarding the necessity of an exit visa. The Canadian Foreign Affairs office in Ottawa will not talk to callers regarding an issue, and require a letter or e-mail. The phone number of the Canadian Embassy in Lebanon would not be provided.
Churches from Marathon in the north to St. Joe’s Island and Thessalon in the east have raised funds, donated household items, and received generous pricing from local businesses for necessary new items. Their members have prepared a furnished home for a family of four, two adults and two children, a boy of 8 years and a baby now 8 months old, and like the rest of aging as time passes.
By the third week of April, the United Church was advised that our family would arrive in four to six weeks. The family at that point , we were advised, were TRAVEL READY, meaning medical checks were complete as were security checks. To ensure accommodations would be available a home was rented effective May 1st.
With over 200 United Church congregations across Canada as well as other church communities and private sponsor’s still waiting for concrete answers, cash reserves from many hours of fundraising are being wasted. These Canadians want real answers now.