Canada Moves to Protect Afghan Personnel Who Worked with Canadian Forces

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Damaged cars are seen at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Damaged cars are seen at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Thunder Bay – NEWS – The Canadian Government has finally moved forward on providing some security for Afghan personnel who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces in that troubled country.

Thunder Bay Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski states, “I am extremely pleased that the Government of Canada has announced special immigration measures for the Afghans who worked for Canada during and after our combat mission in Afghanistan. These measures will give them a path to a future in Canada.

“Over the past year and a half, my staff and I have worked tirelessly with veterans, private organizations and within government to ensure these brave Afghans are not left behind.

“This included having working with veterans to identify cases of contractors in Afghanistan under threat, double-checking their documents and those provided by their military supporters and finding former Canadian soldiers who appeared in photographs with them in order to follow up on these interpreter’s references. This work has been integral to the government’s identification of these individuals.

“I would like to specifically highlight and thank local Thunder Bay veteran Robin Rickards, who has himself been unflagging in his persistence to not only bring two of his close Afghan colleagues that had served with him to Canada, but all Afghans that have provided lifesaving support to Canada’s men and women in uniform.”

Many brave Afghans made incredible contributions to Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan—often at great personal risk. While over 800 were able to resettle in Canada over the past decade, many are still in Afghanistan. With the situation in the country deteriorating rapidly, many have become Taliban targets due to their work.

The Government of Canada is seized with the urgency of the situation, and we are working quickly to help those who put themselves at great risk to help Canada. That’s why the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today announced a special program to resettle the Afghans who were integral to Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan.

In recognition of their service to Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is implementing special immigration measures that will offer a path to protection in Canada for those at risk due to their work. The work at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Department of National Defence (DND) is well underway to identify and assist individuals eligible for resettlement to Canada. Operational teams from IRCC, GAC and DND are currently on the ground in Afghanistan to support these efforts. Starting immediately, IRCC will begin processing individuals referred to them by GAC and DND.

Those eligible include interpreters who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces, cooks, drivers, cleaners, construction workers, security guards and locally engaged staff employed at the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan, and their family members. Criteria to be referred for resettlement are based on applicants’ significant or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada. Applicants must meet all usual admissibility requirements, including security, criminal and health screenings, and processing timelines will be expedited. Applicants will also be subject to existing COVID-19 public health measures and safety protocols.

To protect their privacy, as well as the safety of extended family who may remain in Afghanistan, we will not disclose the identity of those who will be resettled, how they will be evacuated or when. For security reasons, we also will not comment on specific operational matters of our missions abroad.