Canada to welcome thousands of Sudanese refugees

On February 23, the Department of Immigration quietly announced a new immigration pathway for Sudanese nationals impacted by the civil war in Sudan. Starting Tuesday, they will accept up to 3,250 applications from single applicants or families.

Canada to welcome thousands of Sudanese refugees
The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby
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Sudanese nationals fleeing their civil war can now seek refuge in Canada, according to the Department of Immigration.

On February 23, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) quietly announced a new immigration pathway for Sudanese families impacted by the Sudanese civil war.

Starting Tuesday, they would accept up to 3,250 applications from single applicants or families, representing a new family sponsorship pathway that will grant permanent residency to successful applicants in Canada. 

In addition, the Department of Immigration confirmed it will waive the permanent residence fee and provide free settlement services to those applicants.

“This humanitarian pathway will help reunite loved ones and save lives,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller said last December to announce the program.

According to data from Census 2021, 17,485 people in Canada claimed Sudan as their country of ethnic or cultural origin. Of these individuals, 4,690 are recent immigrants to Canada who reported Sudan as their country of birth.

The program allows applications for anyone living in Sudan, including large numbers of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees who had fled to the country before the war. It is unclear how many spots will be allocated for Sudanese citizens.

Immigration Canada spokesperson Julie Lafortune did not speculate on whether the cap would be removed or increased.

“When responding to international crises, there are often similarities in that people may be fleeing instability of some sort, but the immigration responses are tailored to each different context to meet the unique needs of those who require our support,” she said.

Lafortune defended the decision to include non-Sudanese people in the program, as “Sudan hosts one of the largest refugee populations in Africa.”

But the immigration pathway has faced pushback from leaders in Canada’s Sudanese community, reported The Globe and Mail.

“I don’t think people understand the scale of the problem,” said Sami Atabani, the Canadian brother of Kholoud Abakar, who, alongside her seven children, have fled their homes five times. He says the federal government should remove the cap.

The Sudan program has some similarities to a separate Canadian pathway for family sponsorship for 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, announced last month. More than 1,400 Canadian individuals and organizations have signed an online petition calling the Sudan and Gaza programs “inadequate and discriminatory.”


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