A congressional report criticized the government for its slow response to the handling of the Afghan refugee crisis while making recommendations on how it could help bring Afghans to Canada more quickly.
The Special Committee’s report on Afghanistan, released Wednesday, outlines its 37 recommendations, which include allowing the minister to lift biometric and passport requirements, introduce a market special operations, setting up sponsorship programs for refugees and setting up air crossings if needed.
It also said that Canada needed to be able to “reinforce resources” and reallocate personnel to embassies and departments to respond to future crises, and called on the government to establish a group that brings in Afghans and hires more immigration officers to process applications for special immigration programs for Afghan citizens.
Since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan 10 months ago, more than 15,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada – still short of the federal government’s pledge to bring in 40,000 Afghans.
Canada’s response to the crisis has been criticized as ineffective. The special committee wrote that the government “should have pushed for more urgency and a more systematic policy and planning effort throughout the Canadian government to help people achieve safety before that.” becomes much more difficult.”
A former Afghan interpreter said in an interview with CTV News: “I want the Canadian government to help me immediately and immediately get me out of Afghanistan.
Brian Macdonald, executive director of Aman Lara, a group dedicated to helping Afghan refugees get to Canada, believes the government should implement all 37 recommendations.
“Getting someone out of Afghanistan, it’s just a matter of logistics. We can do it. The biggest challenges are the bureaucratic obstacles,” he told CTV News. “If we can figure out how to do paperless moves so people can go without a passport, without a visa and just directly out of the country, that’s what we do.” definitely support.”
The United Nations says nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan, or nearly half the population, are facing severe hunger and many Afghans working for the Canadian military or embassy are still stranded there.
Afghan lawyer Saeeq Shajjan used to work at the Canadian embassy in Kabul. He managed to escape to Toronto last August, but his agents are hiding in Afghanistan.
“I believe the Government of Canada owes them. I owe them. They have worked with the utmost loyalty and professionalism to serve the Canadian mission, and now we see them in jeopardy,” he said. with CTV News.
Shajjan said one of the problems with Canada’s response to the crisis was the lack of effective communication between the three government agencies involved in the response, a point echoed in the commission’s report. especially.
This week, the NDP accused the government of losing 2,900 vetted applications from Afghans.
“(Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) can’t seem to find these files. As much as the parliamentary and government secretaries like to say they’re doing a great job, I’m sorry to say they are. no. were left behind. They couldn’t even find their files. How could that be?” NDP MP Jenny Kwan said in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser denied that any applications were lost, but it was not clear whether those applications had been processed.
He told reporters on Thursday: “No applications were lost and I don’t think I have to frame things that way.
The committee specifically recommends that one take the lead to reduce the red tapes that vulnerable refugees are facing.
The report also urges Canada to “fairly share” humanitarian aid and to ensure Canadian organizations providing aid in Afghanistan are not prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws, and to review those laws to ensure they do not restrict legitimate humanitarian activity. work.
“I know the Government of Canada is concerned that the money is not falling into the hands of the Taliban and that no one in Canada wants to support a terrorist organization,” Macdonald said.
The government has said its commitment to bring 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada has not been waived, but so far, none has adopted any of these recommendations.
With files from the Canadian Press.