Syrian Canadian Council
Faisal Alazem the director of the Syrian Canadian Council of Montreal. And like many in the Syrian-Canadian community he is heartbroken, despairing and trying to keep hope alive in the face of the suffering and anguish of so many of the people in his former homeland, and in the crowded refugee camps beyond it.
For the last three or four years the largest communities of Syrians in Canada, in both Toronto and Montreal, have been working to gather supplies for the 4 million Syrians who are externally displaced, as well as the many internally displaced within the war-torn country.
The Syrian Canadian Council had been gathering winter supplies most recently, as it was a harsh winter in Turkey and Lebanon where so many Syrians are stranded.
The Syrian conflict has created the largest refugee crisis since the creation of the UN
10,000 Syrian refugees have been accepted by Canada. 4,000 will be UNHCR sponsored, and 6,000 will be privately sponsored by Syrian churches, mosques and othe organizations.
It will take 40 months, however, to begin to see the first of these families arrive. Canadians cannot sponsor anyone internally displaced, and those who landed in Turkey, approximately 1.6 million people, are not eligible either, as Turkey is not issuing exit permits.
Each eligible family of four can only come on the basis of a $20,000 guarantee. The money will be returned eventually, but very few Syrian Canadians are in the position to make this money available for an extended length of time.
Alazem says he has witnessed people here in Canada getting sick with the anxiety and worry over their loved-ones back home. And for others, the inability to go back to Syria to attend the funeral of a family-member or loved-one, is causing extreme hardship.