Several Canadian cities stop taking Syrian refugees

Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters in Toronto that he would oblige and have new arrivals diverted to other cities until those feeling overwhelmed sort out their issues.

AFP| Updated: Jan 21, 2016, 02:44 AM IST

Ontario: Several major Canadian cities will temporarily stop taking Syrian refugees, the government said Wednesday, after they revealed that they were struggling to find proper accommodation in the dead of winter.

Refugee agencies in Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto asked for a pause in resettlements, citing a lack of affordable housing and a shortage of staff.

Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters in Toronto that he would oblige and have new arrivals diverted to other cities until those feeling overwhelmed sort out their issues.

McCallum acknowledged that "housing is a challenge, but I think we are in the process of meeting that challenge," he said.

"The flow from the airplanes is not slowing down at all," he said. "But if certain towns or cities need a pause, there will be other places in Canada that will receive the refugees.

"There are many, many places in Canada that are crying out for refugees."

As of January 19, Canada has welcomed 11,866 Syrian refugees and another 5,829 have been cleared to travel here.

Ottawa has pledged to take in a total 25,000 by the end of February.