Technically this letter should be addressed to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and be sent to his e-mail address. Since Canada is gearing up for the general elections and all the politicians are busy with their election campaigns, I will not let this letter be unnoticed and forgotten in the Prime Minister’s mail box. So, I decided to send my letter addressed to Mr. Harper, to national newspapers in Canada for public disclosure.
I am Murat Kandemir, a Canadian immigration consultant, and currently living in Istanbul in pursuit of master’s degree in international relations at a university. During my time in Turkey for the last three years, I have experienced firsthand the refugee influx to Turkey, mainly Istanbul. They are fleeing war torn countries of Syria and Iraq and trying to make a living here. Most of the refugees here are dreaming of setting foot in Western countries in Europe and North America.
Keeping the public informed on my blog, I write about Canadian immigration and refugee news regularly and consequently I keep receiving e-mails from Syrian refugees in Turkey for possibility to escape to Canada for asylum and start a new life there. I even wrote about former Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s official visit to Islahiye and Oncupinar refugee camps in Kilis, Turkey, in January 2013.
When it comes to giving immigration advise to refugees there is nothing much to tell them other than group of five sponsorship really. To come to Canada under Group of Five sponsorship refugee program, five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents should sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada. Effective 2012, group of five sponsors can only sponsor applicants who are recognized as refugees by either UNHCR or a foreign state. Moreover, sponsors must agree to give emotional and financial support to those who are being sponsored for one year. The eligibility for this program is so high that makes it impractical for the most refugees in immediate need.
While the civil unrest continues in Syria, the UNHCR already made subsequent calls on to you to accept more Syrian refugees. Your Conservative government announced that you would take as much as 20.000 refugees from Syria and according to government figures only 1,002 Syrian refugees had arrived in Canada as of late July.
The death of three year old Alan Kurdi who has drowned in Turkish waters en route to Greece, marks a tragic symbol of western countries’ failure for Syrian crisis. Furthermore, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Alan and his family – mother Rehanna, father Abdullah and five-year-old brother Ghalib – were rejected in June by Canada’s refugee system for unknown reasons. The fact that Alan’s close relatives live in Canada makes Syrian issue is a Canadian issue as well. A heartbreaking story of Alan has become the face of refugee catastrophe stretching from the Middle East to Canada.
Dear Prime Minister,
Leave all the immigration and refugee rules and regulations aside for once. Don’t worry about your election campaigns. This is a matter of life and death. Don’t even think about economic motivations in immigration. Just do something for refugees please. I personally beg you. Take an urgent action starting a new immigration initiative called ‘Alan Initiative’ for honoruing little soul and accommodate as much as 100.000 refugees in Canada immediately. I know Canada can do that. You have the means, money, strength, but most importantly the tradition of helping others. Canadians have such a big heart that showed compassion to millions of immigrants and refugees including me. Canada showed great generosity to immigrants and refugees all the time. Why not show it again?
Your Syrian refugee move for increasing the number of refugees for settlement in Canada would be a historic one and be retold in history books for years. Show the world what a true Canadian look like.
Here I am, totally at your service. You can utilize me in your immigration waiver project for Syrian refugees in Turkey. I will be honoured to volunteer in this divine cause. Please take the lead and do emergency humanitarian intervention which would suits Canada most in the world.
To conclude, I join the same question of British newspaper asked to the world. If the powerful image of Aylan will not change your attitude to immigration, what will?
Murat Kandemir, September 4, 2015