Feds looking into assisting settlement agency with cost of Saudi refugee's security
OTTAWA – The federal government is looking into providing funding to the settlement agency that is helping Saudi Arabian teen Rahaf Mohammed for the 24-hour security that she is being provided.
A source close to the file speaking to CTVNews.ca on background said that because security is not a typical cost that many refugees face, the government is looking into a way to transfer the funds to the organization, which is helping the 18-year-old adjust to her new life in Canada.
This comes after Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was asked, and deflected questions on Tuesday, about who would be footing the bill for Mohammed's protection.
Asked during media availability if the federal government would be paying for the security, Hussen said that he didn’t want to discuss those details.
"We have to be careful about the details with respect to her security," Hussen said, noting that she will be receiving access to the federal government's settlement services like job support.
In a follow-up comment to CTVNews.ca, Hussen's press secretary said: "Our primary concern is Ms. Mohammed's safety. We will work with COSTI on the issue of any extra costs they may incur to provide security."
Mohammed was granted asylum by Canada after fleeing her family and garnering international attention using social media to document her efforts, which included barricading herself inside a Bangkok hotel room.
During a media availability last week, COSTI—the federally-funded refugee settlement organization that is helping Mohammed get settled in Canada— said that it had hired private security for her as a result of threats she was receiving online. Mario Calla, the executive director of COSTI, said at the time that he expected either the federal government or his organization would cover the cost for the round-the-clock security.
"Typically we work these things through with the federal government… I'm sure they'll cover it, if not COSTI will cover it," Calla said.
COSTI is also assisting her with housing, applications for things like a health card and a social insurance number, and learning English.
During the media availability, Hussen shot down a question about her case being fast-tracked, saying that she was welcomed in as part of a small program tailored specifically for “urgent” requests for protection.
"It's a very small program, a few hundred people a year, and it's not based on publicity or anything like that, it’s based on referrals from the world body that is an expert on these issues, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees," Hussen said, adding that he was proud of Canada's response.
"We wish her the best," he said.