Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Canada Welcomes First Group of Bhutanese Refugees

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Dec. 8, 2008) - The first of a large group of Bhutanese refugees will be arriving in Canada today, announced Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

The group of 24 refugees will be living in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. They are the first of up to 5,000 Bhutanese who will be resettled in Canada after living in camps run by the United Nations in southeast Nepal since the early 1990s. Canada has been working with members of the international community to find solutions for the long-standing situation of some 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of ethnic Nepalese descent who were forced out of their homeland and have been living in exile for the past 15 years.

"This is truly the start of a momentous journey for the Bhutanese refugees, who are finally in a place where they can be assured of safety and security," said Minister Kenney. "These individuals, and those still to come, bring with them hopes, dreams and skills that build an even richer and more prosperous society. I am proud of our country's long-standing humanitarian tradition of providing protection to refugees, which helps to make Canada respected and envied throughout the world."

Whenever possible, refugees are settled in communities where they have relatives or friends, but they may move to other cities in Canada as they choose. Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, the Province of Quebec is responsible for providing settlement and integration services for all immigrants living in the province, including refugees. Quebec was involved in selecting these refugees and will be providing them with initial settlement funding covering basic requirements such as clothing and household items. All resettled refugees are also entitled to access various integration services, such as language instruction, to help them adjust and adapt to life in Canada.

There are an estimated 11.4 million refugees in the world today. Every year, 19 countries resettle about 100,000 refugees. Of that number, Canada annually resettles 10,000 to 12,000 refugees, or one out of 10 globally, through its government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee programs. In 2007 alone, Canada resettled refugees of about 70 different nationalities.

The next group of Bhutanese refugees are scheduled to arrive in early 2009 and settle in various cities across Canada.

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