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Refugees Myths and Facts

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MYTH: Real refugees are those who wait in refugee camps overseas. Those who make a claim in Canada jump the line and are not as deserving.

FACT: Refugees are people who have been forced from their homes by human rights abuses. All refugees have a right to protection, wherever they are. Canada also has legal obligations towards refugees in Canada under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention against Torture. The Supreme Court of Canada has also confirmed that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights of asylum-seekers to fundamental justice.

MYTH: Canada does more than its share to assist refugees and asylum-seekers when compared to other countries.

FACT: Only a small minority of refugees and asylum-seekers make claims in the world’s richest countries, including Canada. In 2006, Tanzania alone hosted more refugees than Canada, France, Australia, the United States, Germany, Spain and Japan combined. While Syria, Chad, Kenya, Thailand, China, Iran and Jordan each hosted more than 250,000 refugees in 2006, Canada hosted only 43,500.

MYTH: Refugee claimants pose threats to Canada’s security.

FACT: Refugee claimants are not threats to security – they are seeking security and protection from threats to their own lives. Refugee claimants all go through a front-end security screening. Through this process, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) checks all refugee claimants on arrival in Canada. Since the screening was put in place in 2001, the number of claimants found to represent any kind of security concern has been statistically insignificant.

MYTH: Refugees are a drain on our economy.

FACT: Only a handful of the world’s refugees (about .007% in 2008) receive assistance from the Canadian government usually for a very limited amount of time (one year). All refugees who resettle to Canada are expected to pay back the travel costs associated with their resettlement. Studies show that refugees and immigrants also contribute positively to the Canadian economy. Many refugees start small businesses that employ both themselves and native Canadians. In addition, immigration helps to offset the effects of our declining birth rate and aging population.

MYTH: Refugees want to abuse the system and get rich.

FACT: Refugees do not come to Canada to abuse the system or get rich. It is important to remember the cause for which they resettle to Canada. Unlike economic migrants, refugees have arrived in Canada in search of protection.  The wars and conflicts that caused people to flee their countries in the first place did not discriminate between the rich or poor, and many of them led successful lives before being forced to leave everything behind in search of safety.