Canada and United States Collaborate to Bring Safety to Vulnerable Afghan Refugees

Gordon Welters for The New York Times

By Giovanna Spargo, 2L

In August, soon after the Taliban seized Afghanistan, Afghan citizens understandably began to panic, looking for passage out of their home country under Sharia law. As of September 16, over 124,000 people have evacuated the country, and more continue to flee to safety. A massive global effort to provide safe homes for thousands of Afghan refugees has ensued, with about 40,000 relocating around Europe and the Middle East.

Canada withdrew their military presence from Afghanistan on August 26 of this year. As of September 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada has committed to resettling over 20,000 Afghan refugees. Canada is also preparing to accept 5,000 refugees directly from the United States, whose evacuations were facilitated by the United States military at Hamid Karzai International Airport. These 5,000 refugees are being welcomed as part of Canada’s novel program that offers special assistance to vulnerable groups from the region. Specifically, the program seeks to protect persecuted Afghan minorities, women and human rights advocates, LGBTI individuals, persecuted religious minorities, journalists and those who assisted journalists with their efforts in the region, and the immediate family members of such people. These individuals will come into the country through a facility in Calgary, where they will receive assistance with the immigration process, before being resettled in one of thirty-five communities throughout Canada.

Canada has previous experience receiving a large number of refugees in Calgary, resettling thousands of Syrian refugees through the same city just three years ago. This previously established infrastructure contains a strong relationship with local communities, school boards, and the city itself, to effectively resettle refugees emigrating to North America. Canada intends to provide a permanent home for these individuals in their country, reducing current pressures in the global resettlement program.

The United States has also made a massive push to accept refugees; as of September 13, the United States committed to resettling more than 60,000 Afghan refugees. In order to accommodate the influx, the United States government has transformed eight of their military bases across the country and overseas into what are being described as “small cities.” These military bases are housing around 49,000 refugees in the United States, and 18,000 refugees at overseas bases, as of September 14. At the military bases, each refugee will receive medical screenings and a COVID vaccination, after which they will be relocated to communities across the country.

Hopefully those who have emigrated to North America from Afghanistan as a result of this tragedy can establish a safe new home for themselves and their families.

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