Canada pledges $13M in aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan
Published Sunday, March 31, 2013 11:02AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 31, 2013 4:36PM EDT
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird committed to an additional $13 million to Jordan to help deal with the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have arrived in the Middle Eastern county over the last two years.
During a stop Amman, the country’s capital, Baird said Jordan has demonstrated a “leadership” role in promoting peace in the region.
“Jordan’s generosity in hosting an influx of Syrian refugees is a model for all,” he said in a statement. “Some 2,000 desperate Syrians arrive in Jordan daily. Accepting them is not without sacrifice or risk domestically. It is done in the finest tradition of promoting human dignity.”
Baird was in Jordan for the inauguration of Canada’s new embassy building in Amman.
Canada has already given Jordan $11.5 million to help deal with the more than 380,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border into the country over last two years.
The crisis in Syria has hampered Canadian efforts to resettle thousands of refugees from other areas in the region, including Iraq, as the ongoing violence forced the closure of the Canadian visa office in Damascus last year. The office was a central processing point for Iraqi refugee applicants.
Baird suggested that re-establishing a Canadian embassy in Baghdad would help expedite the process of resettling Iraqi refugees in Canada.
In 2009, Canada pledged to accept about 20,000 Iraqi refugees by 2013. So far, only about 12,000 have arrived.
Recently, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the number of refugees Canada accepted in 2012 dropped because of the Damascus embassy closure.
“I’d love to see a Canadian presence on the ground in Baghdad,” Baird told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. “I think that would be tremendously important to the future of our economic relationship and trade, as well as people-to-people ties.”
After his meetings in Jordan, Baird will visit several other countries in the Mid-East, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Cyprus and Israel.