Saturday, April 7, 2007

Refugees 'living in limbo for years'

Toronto Sun - Thu, April 5, 2007
200,000 have no status


Toronto-area community agencies are calling for
Ottawa to grant permanent residency to more than
200,000 refugees and other newcomers who have no status in

"This is an ongoing concern for all community
organizations," said Amy Casipullai, of the
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
"We see many people in this situation who need help."

The agencies were marking Refugee Rights Day at
Toronto City Hall yesterday with workshops and
displays by immigrant-aid groups.


Casipullai said the non-status refugees have been
accepted as claimants but not given permanent
resident status for a number of reasons including
lack of paperwork or because Canada has a
moratorium on deportation to their native countries.

"We have been trying for a long time to do
something for these people," she said. "Many have
been living in limbo for years."

She said her agency and the Canadian Council for
Refugees have been lobbying Ottawa for changes to
the immigration rules to make them permanent residents.

Casipullai said the refugees are not eligible for
social assistance or government jobs and their
children have to pay foreign student tuition.

"These people are facing extreme hardships," said
Alfredo Barahona, of KAIROS, a coalition of
churches in Canada. "These people pose a very big
concern for many community organizations."

"Many end up in homeless shelters," said Crystle
Nyman, of Hamilton's Micah House, which has fewer
than a dozen beds while the number of refugees is rising.