Over 600 Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) from Iran, Somalia, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar all made Metro Vancouver home in 2013 thanks to the support of ISSofBC.
Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Canada accepts refugees based on those most in need of protection. GARs are refugees selected from abroad and resettled to Canada, arriving as permanent residents.
In 2013, ISSofBC assisted 641 GARs (614 of which landed in Vancouver and 27 self-transferred from another province) in the resettlement process through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) comprised of temporary housing at Welcome House and orientation and case management.
RAP staff also helped the GAR clients find permanent accommodation in Metro Vancouver which RAP Manager Caroline Dailly says is no easy task.
“It is increasingly difficult for GARs to find a permanent home in Metro Vancouver, given their meager shelter allowance and the ever rising rental costs. We have to go further and further away (mainly Surrey and Tri-Cities) to find affordable housing for them,” she said.
The top five resettlement destinations for 2013 included Surrey, Tri-Cities, Burnaby, Vancouver and New Westminster.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are over 10 million refugees worldwide and over 800,000 in need of resettlement. A refugee is defined as someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.
Every year British Columbia accepts approximately 800 GARs to the province. For 2014, 63 are already scheduled to arrive in February primarily from Iran and Iraq.
ISSofBC’s RAP provides GAR clients orientation and information on programs and services available to aid in the adjustment to life in Canada in addition to temporary housing at Welcome House in Downtown Vancouver.