On May 6th, Dr Ghazi Farooq presented an overview of the global Syrian refugee situation. It was interesting to learn that the Canadian private sponsorship program is unique in the world and one that is suggested as a model for other governments to use; 9,000 of the 26,000 refugees are privately sponsored. Dr. Farooq went on to provide an insightful critique of the Canadian response to the crisis and told the story of the Syrian family that has been sponsored by the Islamic Centre of Nanaimo (ICN). Just 3 months ago, before being sponsored by ICN, the new to Nanaimo family lived in Daraa where the Syrian conflict began.
Before the civil war Syria enjoyed high levels of education, literacy, and employment; a country that welcomed refugees fleeing conflicts (e.g. Lebanese, Iraquis & Palestinians). We learned that Syria is a very old and rich civilization with many important archeological and historic sites.
Dr. Farooq also discussed the benefits to Canada of refugees in general, especially the demographic benefit which will delay the graying of our population (important to areas like Vancouver Island). He emphasized that the Syrian refugees will add quickly to our economic base. The refugee family’s 2 boys (11 & 9) are both enrolled in school and they appear to be doing very well. The parents are taking English lessons and they are eager to find work.