A quick historical view of the conflict
2011: The year that saw the beginning of the Syrian crisis.
250,000: Number of people killed directly because of the Syrian civil war since 2011. Unfortunately, this number is rising by the day.
4 million: Number of Syrian refugees living in neighboring countries.
7,6 million: Number of Syrian internally displaced; in other words, Syrians who were compelled to leave their homes to move to another region without leaving Syria. Some people were compelled to be displaced more than once.
37,000: Number of Syrian children born as refugees in neighboring countries.
The so-called « Arab spring » brought a wave of revolution in the Middle-East, including in Syria. In 2011, what started as peaceful protests was met with an armed response from the government in place. From peaceful protest to frequent riots, it became undeniable that a civil war was forming in Syria, a country who had been at peace and enjoyed a rich and vibrant culture. As of today, more than 250,000 people were killed in the war, including many children; and every day this number rises. The war also compelled more than 11 million people to leave their homes, either to live in other areas of Syria, or to flee and seek refugees in other countries.
The province of Quebec decided to welcome 3,650 Syrian refugees by the end of the year 2015. Most of the first arrivals are refugees who were sponsored by Canadian citizens who have family members living as refugees in countries in the Middle-East. These “privately sponsored” refugees will already have a small network of friends and families who promised to actively participate in their integration.
Furthermore, refugees sponsored directly by the Canadian government started arriving to Quebec on 10 December 2015. Most of them will not know anyone in Canada. To compensate the fact that they will have less of a network to guide them in their integration, they will have more support from the government.
Whether sponsored by the government or by a family member, all refugees have access to important resources. Through Montreal’s long history of welcoming refugees and immigrants, many organizations developed and expertise in integration through various services: access to language classes, help in finding work, help in finding a housing arrangement, support to children new to the school system, etc.
Finally, the Syrian community has been a vibrant community in Montreal for more than a century. Many Canadian cities from the Syrian community are already deeply involved in the preparation to welcome the 25,000 refugees promised by Government Trudeau all over Canada. And their efforts are enhanced thanks to the involvement of Canadians who answered to the call for help in great numbers.
The refugees arriving to Quebec will not be coming straight from Syria; all have spent months or even years in a refugee situation in countries neighboring Syria (including Lebanon and Jordan). UNHCR, the UN Agency for refugees, is responsible for their protection in those countries. The refugees sponsored by the Canadian government were referred by UNHCR who made their selection based on vulnerability criteria; anyone who might be a security threat based on their pass or based on their behavior as
refugees for years are not eligible to be resettled to Canada. Moreover, before coming to Canada, each refugee must go through the Canadian security clearance as well as through a medical check.
Most refugees coming to Canada are families with children; the average age of the refugee population is younger than the Quebecois population.
Prior to the war, Syria was a country where school was mandatory for up to 9 years; its universities had a good reputation. The high level of education of the population will certainly be an asset to their integration to Quebec.