Minister Fraser welcomes home Afghan refugees arriving today

News release

December 8, 2021—Halifax, Nova Scotia—As a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is a major contributor to international peace and security, Canada is taking a lead role in ensuring that NATO is able to resettle all its Afghan staff who were evacuated. As part of the commitment to welcome Afghan refugees, the government is resettling up to 472 NATO-identified locally engaged staff and their family members.

Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, extended a warm virtual welcome to 265 NATO locally engaged staff and their families who landed at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Approximately 100 will remain in Nova Scotia, and the rest will continue on to their new homes across Canada.

These former NATO employees arrived in Canada from a third country where they had been temporarily located since leaving Afghanistan. They are part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to welcome 15,000 individuals through its special humanitarian program for Afghan refugees.

As government-assisted refugees, these new arrivals can count on the help of Resettlement Assistance Program service provider organizations, like the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, for short- and long-term support. This includes helping them find permanent housing and providing them with information about finding a job, improving their language skills, and living in Canada generally.

The outpouring of support from Canadians for Afghan refugees to date has been outstanding. Individuals and businesses looking to get involved through volunteering, donating, sponsoring or supporting the wider resettlement efforts can learn more about how Canadians can help.


“Canada is proud to welcome refugees who worked as NATO locally engaged staff in Afghanistan and whose lives were in danger as a result. To all the Afghans who arrived today, welcome home. And thanks to the dedication of our resettlement assistance agencies and private sponsors, they’re already starting their new lives in Canada, and I know Canadians are eager to make them feel at home.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Nova Scotia is proud to provide safe refuge for Afghans fleeing unimaginable circumstances to build a new life. I know Nova Scotians will open their hearts to newcomers and welcome them into our schools, workplaces and communities. We are here to support them as they transition to their new home. They are Nova Scotians now, and we take care of our own.”

– The Honourable Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia

“We are ready to receive and welcome the Afghan refugees who arrived today in Nova Scotia and are honoured to be part of this important resettlement initiative. We are working in partnership with many government agencies and community partners to ensure a safe and welcoming experience of resettlement here. We look forward to helping our new neighbours rebuild their lives in Nova Scotia and to the many contributions they will bring to our communities.”

– Jennifer Watts, Chief Executive Officer, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia

Quick facts

  • The latest data on newly arrived Afghan refugees is available on our key figures webpage.

  • On October 26, 2021, the first flight of NATO locally engaged staff arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, with 116 Afghan nationals on board.

  • Canada’s special humanitarian program aims to resettle Afghan nationals who are outside Afghanistan and without a durable solution elsewhere.

  • Approximately 75% of the government-assisted Afghan refugees who arrived in Atlantic Canada as part of the special immigration programs have moved into permanent housing.

  • Under the Resettlement Assistance Program, government-assisted refugees receive direct financial support to attend to immediate and essential needs. Typical support for government-assisted refugees lasts up to 1 year.

  • Also today, a commercial flight with 234 Afghan nationals arrived in Toronto. These are privately sponsored refugees destined for Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

  • One of the pillars of Canada’s world-leading refugee system, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program allows Canadians to play an integral role in welcoming refugees by sponsoring them. Sponsors are crucial in setting a refugee up for success in this country. They can be groups of Canadians or organizations, including faith groups, ethno-cultural associations or settlement organizations.

Associated links


Contacts for media only

Alexander Cohen
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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