Bring vulnerable North Korean refugees to Canada
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To date, a little over 30,000 refugees have defected from North Korea, seeking a safe haven. And for almost all of them, this first step is the start to a long and arduous journey of finding a new home.
What's the issue?
Currently, the majority of North Korean refugees follow an escape route through China and into Thailand where they are detained for illegal entry. At this point, very few options remain: there are only two countries that will recognize and accept North Korean defectors as refugees, South Korea and the United States of America. However, in one decade, the United States has accepted less than 200 refugees making South Korea the sole option for over 3000 North Koreans each year.
The outcomes and livelihood of North Koreans who have resettled in South Korea suggest a population facing significant challenges socially, economically, and psychologically. In essence, the struggle to find a new home has not ended for most refugees.
Canadians can do more.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada may use his discretionary powers under s. 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to create a private sponsorship program for North Koreans in Thailand. Although HanVoice could take on the role of “implementation partner”, the Government of Canada’s cooperation is essential for this proposal to succeed.
Termed as the North Korean Resettlement Program, HanVoice would take on responsibilities that the Sponsorship Agreement Holders have under Canada's established Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. These include identifying applicants for processing, liaising with applicants and coordinating organization in Thailand, and liaising with sponsors in Canada.
IRCC's responsibilities would largely revolve around accepting and approving applications directly from HanVoice, communicating to the sponsors regarding approvals and processing of applications, and monitoring the sponsors to ensure they fulfill their responsibilities (financial and settlement assistance) - all things the IRCC is already equipped to do.
The new Government of Canada has expressed what seems to be an unprecedented amount of support for refugees, evidenced by its amazing commitment to Syrian refugees in the past few months, as well as a tripling of its refugee quota for 2016.
In addition, Canada has a thriving Korean-Canadian community that is more than willing to assist North Korean refugees who may settle in Canada. HanVoice can confirm that discussions have already been initiated with important non-profit organizations within the Korean-Canadian community, as well as key stakeholders representing the hundreds of Korean-Canadian churches across Canada. These discussions have been met with overwhelming support, leaving us with no doubt as to the depth of assistance that the Korean-Canadian community would be willing to provide to the NK PSR Program.
In February 2014, the United Nation’s Commission of Inquiry into human rights in North Korea published a scathing report stating that the “gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
As Canadians, we can no longer stay passive. The Canadian government and Canadians need to take action in implementing the North Korean Private Sponsorship of Refugees Pilot Program to produce real change in the lives of North Korean refugees. Please sign and share!
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