Safe houses for Afghans that helped Canada to be ‘scaled back’ over funding, NGO says

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Some Kabul safe houses, where hundreds of Afghans helping Canadian military and non-governmental organizations wait to flee to Canada, are due to close in two weeks due to a lack of funds.

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An organization that runs Safe Homes, where about 1,700 people with permission to come to Canada are being kept and fed, says “time is up” for them.

Without government support some will have to be closed because they don’t have the cash to keep them all open.

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Safe Homes established for the Canadian Military working with Canadian NGOs and interpreters helping Afghans are funded by veterans, charities and private donations.

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Stephen Watt of Northern Lights Canada, who works for refugees, said Afghans already approved to immigrate to Canada will soon be told there is not enough money to house them all.

Afghan Interpreters Association director Wendy Noori Long said Afghans coming to Canada are facing being “in the cold” in Kabul. She said the Canadian government has been asked for funds to keep safe houses open, but this has yet to come to fruition.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday that the federal government was still exploring new ways to bring Afghan refugees to Canada.

“Working with our partners, civil society groups, neighboring countries and other partners, we are exhausting all options and finding new routes to protect refugees in Canada,” Alex Cohen said in a written statement.

“A significant part of this is working closely with various veterans groups, NGOs and other organizations on the ground in Afghanistan – including financial support. Since the conclusion of the evacuation, we have helped nearly a thousand refugees leave Afghanistan. We’ve worked together to help. We can’t share more details due to security concerns.”

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The safe homes were set up as a temporary measure – a staging post before the trip to Canada, Nouri said. But because so few Afghans have been able to leave Kabul, they are trapped there “as sitting ducks”, she said.

Aman Lara, a Canadian non-governmental organization that runs safe houses on the ground, said evacuation was so slow that it didn’t have the funds to keep them all open.

The organization said in a written statement, “Due to the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan, Aman Lara regretfully has to reduce housing support to Afghans in need of evacuation by November 5. Currently, approximately 1,700 people are under our care. “

“We had expected that the applications would be processed on time and the clearance would be fast. Unfortunately, our ability to finance housing has eroded and time has run out.”

Housing is expensive and has been funded through private donations, the couple added.

“While the reduction of these habitats is disappointing, Aman Lara is committed and will continue to focus on the safe evacuation of vulnerable Afghans from Afghanistan. We are working closely with the Government of Canada to further facilitate their passage to Canada. Exploring both land and air options.

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Interpreters and others helping Canadians stationed in Afghanistan were shepherded to the relative security of Kabul before the Taliban took control of the country. Canada ended its airlift mission from Kabul in late August as the US was completing its withdrawal from the country. Thousands of people allowed to travel to Canada were left behind, including Canadian citizens.

Nuri Long stated that there was “an inability to fund these facilities indefinitely in any kind of long-term capacity” and that escaping from Afghanistan – even through neighboring borders – would have been increasingly difficult. was going.

Canada has pledged to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees who have fled the country and set up a special program for particularly vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, human rights activists and persecuted minorities.

About 3,700 Canadian and Afghan refugees, including former interpreters, were airlifted by Canada before the end of August.

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Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan announced on Friday that Canada will resettle 322 more Afghans helping NATO countries and their family members, who must meet Canada’s acceptability requirements. This pledge is in addition to 150 Afghans affiliated with NATO in the process of resettlement in Canada.

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