Canada welcomes first group of the Syrian refugees

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Syrian refugees and an IOM staffer arrive at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada. Photo: IOM

The arrival of the first group of Syrian refugees to be resettled in Canada has been welcomed by the United Nations, which is encouraging other countries to take part in similar programmes.

Last night, 163 people arrived in Canada from Lebanon to start a new life in the country as part of a recently announced humanitarian programme.

The programme aims to resettle some 25,000 Syrian refugees.

Nicki Chadwick has more.

Canada has clearly laid out the welcome mat for the first arrival of refugees in the country, according to the International Organization for Migration, which says that the resettlement programme will now unfold 'very rapidly'.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that it is working with Canadian authorities to identify vulnerable Syrians who will be able to start a new life in Canada. The agency says that the refugees’ welcome in the country has been underpinned by its community integration programmes.

Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for UNHCR, says that the agency is calling on other countries to follow Canada's lead and set up similar resettlement programmes: "They do provide absolutely critical support for refugees in countries neighbouring Syria. To date some 30 countries have pledged a total of more than 160,000 places for Syrians under resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission."

UNHCR estimates that 10 per cent of the 4.1 million registered refugees in countries neighbouring Syria are vulnerable and are in need of resettlement or humanitarian admission to a third country.

Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1'11"

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