Helping vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh 


The Government of Canada has a humanitarian tradition of providing assistance to those in need. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is committed to offering help to vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh and to taking the necessary time to do this right. Canada will welcome approximately 1200 vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh and their family members by the end of 2017.

Canada offers assistance based on vulnerability, not on the basis of religion or ethnicity alone. That is why Canada’s program will help vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh. Yazidis will feature prominently since they suffered a particularly high level of violence at the hands of Daesh.

These individuals have experienced severe trauma, thus coordination with the settlement community in Canada is underway to ensure that settlement services are available to meet the particularly acute needs of those we are welcoming.

We are working with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh as well as their family members who are both inside and outside of Iraq.

Between October 25, 2016 and February 22, 2017, the target date set in a motion passed by the House of Commons, we expect nearly 400 survivors of Daesh to have arrived in Canada as government-assisted refugees.

The size of Canada’s initiative is comparable to that of the German operation, which brought just over 1000 vulnerable women and girls from Northern Iraq to Germany over the course of a year in light of the difficult operating environment and the need to have specialized supports in place prior to their arrival.

In addition to the 1200 government-assisted refugees Canada will welcome, we are also facilitating the private sponsorship of individuals who fall within this vulnerable group. More Yazidi and other survivors of Daesh will arrive in Canada as privately sponsored refugees.

Individuals outside Iraq, in Lebanon and Turkey, and registered with the UNHCR were referred to Canada. Most of these individuals will be in Canada by February 22, 2017.

Inside Iraq, UNHCR is identifying individuals with the support of local authorities and non-government organizations in the Middle East.

This part of the initiative focuses on the vulnerable Yazidi women and children and other survivors of Daesh and their family members, and will allow the resettlement of individuals who do not fit into the traditional category of “refugees” as they are internally displaced, i.e. still in their home country.

Canadian visa officers recently interviewed a small group of people, who will be the first group of internally displaced persons in Iraq considered for resettlement to Canada. Bringing a smaller number of individuals early on will help us determine whether the settlement services in place are adequate.

It is not Canada’s intention to resettle large numbers of the Yazidi people. The Yazidi are an integral part of Iraq’s society and it is important to recognize that many people wish to remain in their community which is why the program will focus on a small number of people for whom resettlement is the best option.

Iraqis inside Iraq receive assistance from their government along with support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Canada is offering resettlement as one solution, in the context of larger humanitarian efforts in the region. We recognize that people who have suffered greatly at the hands of Daesh may not be able to reintegrate into their communities or may need access to specialized services and care. For these individuals, resettlement to Canada may be the best option.

We have obtained the consent of the Government of Iraq to operate in the region. We have also been in touch with authorities from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, who are also supportive of our plan.

Screening process

The same screening process will be used for individuals from outside and inside Iraq.

Once a case has been identified, an interview will be scheduled with professional, experienced visa officers who will collect information necessary to make a decision on each case to facilitate issuing visas.

Immigration processing is completed overseas. All refugees undergo criminal and security checks to make sure that they have not committed a serious crime in the past and that they are not a security risk to Canada before they are accepted for resettlement. Security screening includes collecting biographical information and biometrics, such as fingerprints and digital photos, which is checked against immigration, law enforcement and security databases. If during the course of the interview or screening process there are any potential concerns, those applications may take longer to process as we consult with our security partners. 

All potential permanent residents, which includes refugees, are required to undergo an Immigration Medical Examination as part of the application process to come to Canada. This includes screening for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. 

The International Organization for Migration will arrange for transportation to Canada on commercial flights. 

Refugees coming to Canada as government-assisted refugees will be greeted at the airport by a trained Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organization (RAP SPO) which is prepared to work with extremely traumatized individuals. These organizations help meet the immediate and short-term needs of the newly arrived refugees. This includes providing a temporary place to stay, such as a reception house or a hotel, while they help the refugees get resettled in Canada and find affordable and suitable permanent housing. These organizations also ensure each refugee’s short-term food and clothing needs are met and help them connect with specialized service provider organizations who will provide the necessary supports to meet their medium- and longer-term needs. 

See the backgrounder on the Settlement Journey for further information on the settlement process.

Settlement services in Canada

Canada has a well-established refugee resettlement program that helps all refugees settle and integrate. Many of the activities that are being undertaken for this special initiative, such as needs assessments, are part of our overall resettlement program and similar services are provided to other refugee populations. 

However, because survivors of Daesh have experienced severe trauma, the Department is working with the communities where the refugees will be resettled, including local service provider organizations and provincial/territorial officials to arrange for appropriate settlement supports. Supports can range from interpreters to psychological, physical and social supports. Access to settlement services continue until individuals become Canadian citizens. 

Working with our partners overseas, we are assessing what supports individuals need before they leave for Canada. This information is shared with service providers in Canada. The Department is also in contact with settlement service provider organizations who are helping those who have already arrived in Canada and will adjust accordingly as we learn how people are doing after arrival. 

Individuals resettled through this initiative are expected to go to cities in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and possibly other provinces. We are being very cautious with this population. To protect the privacy of these individuals, we will not release information about arrival dates or locations.

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