Canada to welcome 1,300 more Karen refugees
Ottawa, June 19, 2008 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced that Canada will welcome an additional 1,300 Karen refugees from Burma (also known as Myanmar) in 2008 and 2009.
The Karen, a minority ethnic group, fled their country in 1995 following a major offensive by the Burmese government army against the Karen National Union. They are among the 140,000 Burmese refugees who have been living in Thai refugee camps for up to 20 years.
“Canada continues to welcome the Karen refugees who have been living under some of the world’s most difficult conditions for many years,” said Minister Finley. “Canada is a blessed nation by almost any standard and Canadians should be proud that we are able to help those who most need it. By working together, we will be able to offer protection to more than 3,900 Karen refugees from some of the most remote camps in Thailand.”
Last year following the Government’s February 2007 announcement, Canada selected another 1,800 Karen. In the previous year, Canada welcomed more than 800 Karen refugees.
Canadian officials recently visited the camps and selected another 1,300 persons for resettlement most of whom are relatives of the 2,600 selected previously. Arrivals are expected to begin later this year and will continue throughout 2009.
The Karen who have arrived to date have settled all across Canada. They have been welcomed by communities in Charlottetown, St. John’s (Nfld), Moncton, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, Toronto, Kitchener, Windsor, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Prince Albert (SK), Moose Jaw, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Citizenship and Immigration Canada continues to work closely with Canadian volunteers, sponsors and settlement workers to assist in the settlement and integration of these refugees.