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The Syrian Refugee Crisis

    In four years, the brutal conflict in Syria has produced over four million refugees. Most are in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan where resources are stretched beyond the breaking point. A growing number of refugees are faced with the impossible choice between remaining in desperate conditions or making terrifying journeys and risking their lives to escape endless suffering. This is now a global crisis.

    To date, Canada’s commitment to resettling refugees has been modest and processing rates painfully slow.  In the face of this mounting crisis, it is time for Canada to act decisively and generously to open up places of safety for those fleeing conflict.

    Our Call to Action: 8 key steps Canada must take 

    1. Amnesty International welcomes the Government commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of February 2016. This needs to be followed up with similar generous sustained commitments to all refugees in the upcoming year.

    2. We need to expedite family resettlement. Syrians with family in Canada should be reunited immediately with the paperwork and processing happening after their arrival in Canada.

    3. Private sponsorship of Syrian refugees – the impulse for which has erupted so naturally and generously across the country – needs to be well supported and the many barriers that slow it down have to be lifted.

    4. There needs to be a dramatic increase in the levels of financial, human and logistical resources that are so necessary to ensure speedy processing. There has to be a significant and immediate boost.  Otherwise, no matter the commitments, no matter the aspiration – this will all be an illusion.

    5. Doing more to assist Syrian refugees cannot come at the expense of other refugees from other parts of the world.  Our commitment to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in other countries must continue.

    6. Canada has been generous in providing funding to UN and humanitarian agencies working with refugees and IDPs on the ground in Syria and neighbouring countries. But still those needs remain dramatically underfunded. Canada should keep writing those cheques and pushing and encouraging other nations to do similarly.

    7. Alongside these moves Canada can and should intensify its efforts to find a resolution to the crisis in Syria that has provoked such massive displacement. One place to start would be to work for a comprehensive global arms embargo against Syria.

    8. Finally, we need coordination, political will and leadership.  Government leaders must embrace language, policies and practices which communicate that Canada welcomes refugees.


    What You Can Do

    1. Sign and share Amnesty’s online action calling on the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to maintain Canada’s contribution to the Syrian refugee crisis.

    2. Share your thoughts and articles via social media using these hashtags: #Syria #RefugeeCrisis #RefugeesWelcome #OpenToSyria

    3. Look for non-partisan #RefugeesWelcome events in your area and get involved. 

    4. Join our photo action on Tumblr asking governments to #OpenToSyria.

    5. Use and distribute the “My Door is Open to Refugees” door hanger:

    My Door Is Open for Refugees (front: includes facts about refugees in Canada)
    My Door Is Open for Refugees (without facts about refugees)


    Learn More

    The Basics: Syria's refugee crisis in numbers (Blog 4 February 2016)

    Refugees and Syria powerpoint  (February  2016)

    Refugees, Resettlement and Syria  Q&A (Oct 1 2015)


    How you can support refugees (Blog 15 Dec 2015)
    Refugee resettlement serves to protect the most vulnerable among the refugees (Blog 24 November 2015)
    Amnesty International Welcomes Federal Government Support of Syrian Refugees (Statement 24 November 2015)
    Refugees Welcome Here (Blog 16 November 2015)
    Canada takes small but disappointing steps forward for Syrian Refugees (Blog 21 Sept 2015)
    Refugee and rights organizations release proposal for a strong Canadian response to the Syrian refugee crisis (News release 11 Sept 2015)
    Time for decisive leadership: Refugee lawyers, human rights activists propose solution to expedite acceptance of Syrian refugees and reunite them with Canadian family (News release 10 Sept 2015)
    Syrian Refugees: Canada Must Act (Blog 9 Sept 2015)
    Open Letter to PM Harper on Canada`s Contribution to Refugee Crisis (3 Sept 2015)


    Write a letter Jordan: Syrian refugees stranded at border crossing (Urgent Action updated 22 Jan 2016)

    Turkey: Authorities must ensure safe passage for Syrians fleeing Aleppo attacks (Press release 5 Feb 2016)
    Why do refugee women from Syria in Lebanon face constant sexual harassment and exploitation? (Blog 2 February 2016)
    Lebanon: Refugee women from Syria face heightened risk of exploitation and sexual harassment (News release 2 February 2016)
    Female refugees face physical assault, exploitation and sexual harassment on their journey through Europe (News release 17 January 2016)
    Lebanon: Forcible return of more than 100 refugees to Syria a shocking setback (News release 8 January 2016)
    Turkey: EU risks complicity in violations as refugees and asylum-seekers locked up and deported (News release 15 Dec 2015)
    Gay Syrian refugee couple build a new future in Germany (Blog 11 Dec 2015)
    Jordan: Risk of humanitarian disaster as 12,000 refugees from Syria stranded in ‘no man’s land’ (News release 9 Dec 2015)
    Macedonia: Tear gas and rubber bullets as border tensions mount (News release 3 Dec 2015)
    Turkey: Rounding up of refugees is “a stain on the EU’s conscience” (News update 30 Nov 2015)
    The insecurity of being a refugee woman or girl in Lebanon (Blog 24 November 2015)
    Refugees endangered and dying due to EU’s reliance on fences and gatekeepers (News release & Report 16 November 2015)
    G20 Summit: Rich countries must pull a U-turn on shameful refugee response (News release 13 November 2015)
    Syrian refugees start a new life in Norway through resettlement (Blog 2 November 2015)
    EU-Balkans Summit must avert a looming refugee disaster as winter nears (News release 24 October 2015)
    Hundreds of refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in dire conditions overnight on Croatia/Slovenia border (Media advisory 19 Oct 2015)
    Turkey: Merkel must ensure rights of refugees not cut out of EU-Turkey deal (News release 17 October 2015)
    Hungary: EU must formally warn Hungary over refugee crisis violations (News release 7 Octover 2015)
    Renewed diplomacy must not Ignore justice for war crimes in Syria (Blog 5 Oct 2015)
    Turkey must not force shipwrecked refugees and asylum seekers to return to Syria and Iraq (News release 25 Sept 2015)
    EU Summit - Continuation of a failed strategy to tackle refugee crisis (News release 24 Sept 2015)
    EU summit: Refugees need safe access to protection, not more barriers (News release 21 Sept 2015)
    Volunteers help refugees survive while Europe’s leaders still search for solutions (Blog 21 Sept 2015)
    New satellite images show Hungary’s rush to keep refugees out of Europe (News release 18 Sept 2015)
    Hungary: Children separated from families by police amid border chaos (News Release + Video 16 Sept 2015)
    Serbia/Hungary: Refugees stuck in ‘no-man’s land’ on border amid appalling humanitarian failure (News release 16 Sept 2015)
    Hungary: Refugees blocked by forces, criminalized by laws (News release 15 Sept 2015)
    Hungary: Deplorable images in asylum-seekers reception centre (News release  11 Sept 2015)
    New Commission proposals still far from solving refugee crisis (News release 9 Sept 2015)
    Europe: Drastic change in response needed to tackle refugee crisis (News release  8 Sept 2015)
    Trains to Nowhere – Hungary’s harsh welcome for refugees (Blog 8 Sept 2015)
    Refugees face chaos and harsh conditions at Serbia-Hungary border  (News release  6 Sept 2015)
    Greece: Refugees attacked and in ‘hellish conditions' on Kos (News release  4 Sept 2015)
    Time for Europe to end the refugee shame (Blog  4 Sept 2015)
    Chilling reminders of Syria for refugees trapped on Macedonia’s border (Blog 31 Aug 2015)
    Greece: Chaos and squalid conditions face record number of refugees on Lesvos  (News release  24 Aug  2015)
    Macedonia: Thousands trapped and at risk of violence as border sealed (News release  21 Aug  2015)

    Further Background: Recent Amnesty Reports

    Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees from Syria  (4 February 2015)
    Left Out in the Cold: Syrian refugees abandoned by the international community (5 December 2014)
    Turkey: Struggling to survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey (20 November 2014)