Non-citizens of Ukraine don’t qualify for temporary refuge from war in Canada

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OTTAWA — Masouma Tajik fled Taliban rule in Afghanistan in August, leaving her life and household behind at solely 22 years previous, carrying only one backpack.


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Final week, she left the brand new life she had constructed for herself over the previous six months in Ukraine with solely that very same backpack in hand.

“I used to be so sleepless and drained and I used to be simply on the lookout for a technique to get out of Lviv, to get to the border,” she stated.

Afraid to spend what little cash she had on meals and exhausted after a number of sleepless nights, Tajik made her technique to Poland with the assistance of volunteers, underneath the terrifying din of air-raid sirens.

Her escape from Lviv, Ukraine to Warsaw, Poland bore ghastly similarities to her flight from her house within the Herat province of Afghanistan months earlier.

The Canadian authorities is permitting Ukrainians who’ve fled Russian aggression to return to Canada briefly for a interval of two years “for individuals who want a secure haven whereas the warfare ravages their homeland,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser introduced final week.


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It’s the sort of program Tajik stated she hopes to see from Canada and different international locations in response to the disaster in Ukraine.

“I simply want authorized standing, I simply want a cross in order that I might get someplace secure,” stated the now 23-year-old information scientist in an interview.

However Canada’s program wouldn’t apply to her. The immigration minister’s workplace says for now, this system is just obtainable to Ukraine residents.

Non-citizens will nonetheless be given precedence standing in the event that they apply to return to Canada by means of different immigration streams.

A number of advocates and specialists say nationality shouldn’t be a consideration when serving to individuals to flee violence.

“I feel we’re additionally seeing numerous short-term residents and non-Ukrainian residents who’re being impacted by this,” stated Will Tao, a British Columbia based mostly immigration and refugee lawyer.


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He stated the identical would apply to the lots of of Afghan refugees who escaped to Ukraine final 12 months, solely to seek out themselves in one more warfare zone.

“I’m hoping that our coverage isn’t strictly restricted to citizenship, that residents in Ukraine previous to this may additionally consider, and that we are able to accommodate a few of these of us,” he stated.

The Canadian Council for Refugees stated refugees who resided in Ukraine are in an especially susceptible scenario now.

“Their scenario is much more precarious,” stated govt director Janet Dench. “We’re actually calling on the federal government to pay specific consideration to them,” particularly as early studies indicated some refugees and short-term residents in Ukraine skilled racism on the border and additional issue leaving the nation as Russia attacked.


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In a press release, the immigration minister’s workplace stated all coverage choices are made with safeguards in place to guard towards bias and guarantee accessibility for individuals who want it.

Different international locations are experiencing comparable dilemmas about how you can handle what has now been deemed Europe’s quickest rising refugee disaster because the Second World Struggle.

The United Nations Refugee Company, UNHCR, stated 1.5 million individuals have fled the nation thus far.

Final week, European Union ministers voted unanimously to activate The Momentary Safety Directive for the primary time because it was created in 2001.

UNHCR stated the directive means member states will present speedy safety for Ukrainians and third nation nationals with refugee or everlasting residence standing in Ukraine.


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Individuals with out citizenship or long-term standing in Ukraine are largely racialized minorities, stated Juliana Wahlgren, a member of the European Fee’s knowledgeable group on migration, Integration, and asylum.

Usually they’re asylum seekers who’re nonetheless ready to be granted security, college students, and folks with short-term work visas. A few of these persons are not in a position to return to their house international locations.

“If it’s important to present safety based mostly on the huge inflow (of displaced individuals) and the chance of hurt, they need to be utilized for anybody coming from that scenario, not based mostly on the nationality,” stated Wahlgren, who can also be the performing director of the European Community Towards Racism.

Very like Canada, the EU’s determination to supply a short lived secure haven to individuals displaced by the battle is an efficient one, Wahlgren stated.


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“What’s unhealthy is the double customary,” she stated.

The UNHCR has urged international locations to take an inclusive strategy and grant the identical security and safety to everybody fleeing Ukraine.

For Tajik’s half, she stated when she was in Ukraine she tried to place her battle in Afghanistan behind her and deal with her future. Now, after a second harrowing escape from one other harmful nation, she’s realized she’s merely uninterested in warfare.

“We’re ranging from zero once more,” she stated.

She hopes international locations will prolong alternatives to Afghans and others who’ve escaped with their lives, and permit them to rebuild from the start once more.



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