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July 27th, 2022

NDP calls on Liberals to extend program to bring Afghans to safety

NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Jenny Kwan, issued the following statement:

“Following the withdrawal of American and NATO forces after 20 years of military intervention, we witnessed in horror the Taliban take over Afghanistan in August 2021. Many have fled the country and are seeking asylum, while others have been left behind in an evacuation that started too late and ended too early.

A year ago, the Canadian government announced the Special Immigration Measures for Afghans so that they could get to safety. Instead of expeditious processing, the application process is opaque, confusing and mired in bureaucratic red tape. The NDP exposed that 2,900 applications referred by the Department of National Defence (DND) are ‘lost’ between departments. Additional files referred by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also cannot be found. To date, there has been no explanation from IRCC on what happened to those applications, while people continue to be hunted down by the Taliaban.

Despite this sad reality, the Special Immigration Measure for Afghans is coming to an end. Automatic response indicate that ‘…this mailbox is no longer receiving applications.’ That means many who assisted Canada on missions, and their families may never make it to safety.

A former interpreter who also provided training to other interpreters was forced to flee to Pakistan, leaving his family behind when the Taliban came searching for him. The Taliban took his son in for interrogation. Canada owes this interpreter and countless others like him a great debt of gratitude. Yet, his emails to DND, GAC and IRCC eight months ago went unanswered. He received nothing more than an automatic reply from this government.

In addition, women's organizations that were funded by the Canadian government and worked on advancing women's rights and democratic rights are also being left behind.

New Democrats are, once again, urgently calling on the Liberal government to expand and renew the Special Immigration Measures for Afghans for another year so that they can get those who are eligible to safety in Canada instead of abandoning them.”