The Yarmouth St. Ambrose refugee committee remains committed to bringing two Syrian refugee families to the area, even though it is taking longer than expected to get them here.
The families initially had been expected to arrive around the end of 2015.
“It is discouraging that we have now gone past the two-year mark as we continue to wait,” said committee spokesman Tony Dorrian, “but we will see it through until the final outcome, and we hope that outcome is a positive one.”
The families consist of two brothers, their wives and four children all told (each family has two).
In a recent update for St. Ambrose parishioners, Dorrian said the families were still in a refugee camp in Jordan awaiting final approval from the Canadian visa office.
“We were informed in September of 2017 that our families’ files were in queue for final review and a decision was close,” Dorrian wrote in the update, which was included in the St. Ambrose parish bulletin of Jan. 13-14.
In December, Jennifer Dewey-Deane, refugee sponsorship co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, inquired about the families’ status. In his update for parishioners, Dorrian said they were still waiting for a response to that inquiry. (Since that update was published, Dorrian said the latest word was that the families’ applications “are still in queue.”)
While many refugees were fast-tracked at the start of the Syrian refugee crisis, the current wait time for privately sponsored refugees from Syria is 23 months, according to the federal government, Dorrian told parishioners.
Although the long wait for the two families has been disappointing, Dorrian wrote, “it is important that we maintain our ongoing commitment. It we were to end our sponsorship application, our families would lose their opportunity to come to Canada.”
Meanwhile, another local group – the Yarmouth Refugee Support Group (YRSG) – hopes to bring another Syrian refugee family here, but Leslie Robinson, the group’s co-ordinator, says their situation is very similar to that of St. Ambrose. The process is slow and the wait is long, he said.
The Syrian family who came to Yarmouth two years ago through the YRSG has since moved to Halifax for employment reasons, he said.
An Iraqi family that came to Yarmouth in the summer of 2016 is “still here and doing well,” Robinson said.