Canada so far resettles 12,605 of promised 40,000 Afghan refugees

Published May 9, 2022 10:02 p.m. ET

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Canada vowed to resettle 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan. According to the latest government figures, after nine months only 12,605 have arrived.

For one man, who told CTV National News he wishes to remain anonymous, life has been terrifying since the Aug. 2021 Taliban takeover. He said he worked as a lawyer on behalf of the Canadian embassy and now lives in fear of retribution.

“We are living like refugees in our homeland,” he said. “We are living in hiding and mostly changing our location so the Taliban soldiers don’t know about us, about our whereabouts.”

Ottawa has promised to bring in those who assisted the Canadian government and has received nearly 15,000 applications through this program, but only 6,230 have arrived. Another 6,375 people have come in through a humanitarian program.

In December, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said it could take two years to fulfill the Canadian government’s promise of bringing 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada.

Canada currently has no diplomatic or military presence in Afghanistan, and the government says getting people out of the country remains a challenge. For those who remain in Afghanistan, they say it’s a challenge to just get their phone calls to Canadian officials returned.

“I reached the airport but it was crowded and horrible,” said a man who also represented the Canadian government in court in Afghanistan. He said he received a letter known as an “airport pass” from the U.S. government that included his wife and two-year-old son’s names.

But when they went to the airport, only he was allowed to leave.

“At the end I just made a decision that okay, I have to go and then I will work to get them to safety,” he said from Colorado. His family remains stuck in Afghanistan.

Both men worked for Saeeq Shajjan’s law firm in Afghanistan. Shajjan, who was able to escape Kabul for Canada, said he fears the Taliban is set to increase efforts to find those who helped foreign governments.

“To this day they are very much going after the security forces in Afghanistan to make sure that there is no armed resistance against them,” he told CTV News from Toronto. “Then definitely they’re going to come after lawyers, they will come after judges, they will come after other civil rights activists.”

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