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Calgary MP pushing for Canada to admit more Yazidi refugees

The Governor General of Canada

As of the end of last month, more than 800 survivors of violence at the hands of Islamic militants had arrived in Canad, but a Calgary MP says that’s not enough.

Immigration officials told a House of Commons committee Tuesday morning that 81 per cent are Yazidi, a minority sect from northern Iraq. The ethnic and religious minorities have been targeted by extremists, and Calgary-Nosehill representative Michelle Rempel said they were not included in the Liberal’s Syrian refugee initiative.

She says only about 600 Yazidis have settled in Canada, and of those genocide survivors just a handful received individual mental health support.

“I’ve met with women who have had their souls raped out of them. And when we talk as a people and as a country about never again, this is not how we should be addressing that sentiment.”

The Commons unanimously passed a motion in 2016 calling the persecution of Yazidis a genocide and committing to resettling members of the group. Rempel has been pushing the federal government to reform the refugee program, to include populations that are most at risk.

“Department officials today, they have not received direction from the government to prioritize those applications,” said Rempel. “And indeed, they’re failing to even track the ethnicity of some of these applications themselves.”

Rempel said the government has a backlog of 45,000 cases of privately sponsored refugees, and there’s a cap on the number of people who can come to Canada from northern Iraq.

The target of resettling 1,200 people by the end of this year was subsequently set in February 2017. Officials says the remainder to be brought to Canada have already been identified and their applications are well underway.