Privately sponsored Afghans begin to arrive in Canada, but thousands more in limbo
TORONTO -- As the first charter flight of Afghans with private sponsorship arrives in Canada, thousands of other refugees remain in limbo, without any indication of when they may arrive in their new home.
On Thursday, the federal government announced the arrival of about 250 privately sponsored Afghan refugees to the Toronto airport. The group includes human-rights defenders, persecuted minorities, journalists and more, according to a news release.
While the latest developments are a step in the right direction, thousands of refugees who helped the Canadian military during the Afghanistan War are still waiting for their own flight to Canada.
Fida Hussain and his family are among those desperate to get on with their lives. The former interpreter for the Canadian, United States and British militaries has been holed up with his family in a Pakistani hotel room for the past 76 days.
“[My children] haven't been to school, the only thing I’m concerned about is your future,” he told CTV News.
Hussain has not gotten word from the federal government about a flight plan to Canada, with money running out and visas nearing expiration.
“What will happen for us?” Hussain said.
Hussain and his family were scheduled to fly out in early October, but were told there was a mistake just three days before departure and that his file was still under review. Now, the family worries they’ll be deported back to Afghanistan once their visa expires.
Tyson Martin, a former Canadian Forces commander, worked with Hussain for a brief period during his time in Afghanistan and is deeply disappointed by how the government has handled his case and the cases the other Afghans in limbo.
“The guy served in battle with me, what else do you want?” he said. “These people have put their life on the line for us, and we’re just leaving them there to die.”
Canada has pledged to bring in 40,000 Afghan refugees, but in Tuesday’s release said it is only at about 4,000.
Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada did not respond to a request for comment about Hussain’s case.