Earlier today in Geneva, Switzerland while attending the Annual Tri-partite Consultation on Resettlement I had the opportunity to brief Mr. Guterres on the construction progress. Besides giving him our Welcome House building brochure I also shared with Mr. Guterres a copy of the recent Vancouver Sun front page story. He was not only impressed with our new facility but also thrilled to hear that 1 out of 5 construction workers are former refugees who stayed with us when they first arrived in Canada.
In Mr. Guterres opening remarks to the 3 day consultation on refugee resettlement he stressed:
- 50% increase within the past three years in the need for resettlement spaces – now stands at over 1 million cases
- less than 10% of resettlement needs picked up by states
- 28 states now have resettlement schemes and in 2014, 73,000 refugees were resettled – the highest number over the past 5 years
- “we are in deep trouble – staggering acceleration of refugees in a chaotic world characterized by unpredictability and impunity”
While you can easily become numb by the sheer magnitude of the global refugee crisis, ISSofBC’s new building is a hopeful and positive step forward, providing “out of the box” local integration model for the lucky few refugees that have the opportunity to rebuild their lives in Canada.
About the Author: Chris Friesen has been the ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services for over twenty years. He is currently leading the multi-year initiative to design and build a Metro Vancouver Regional Service Centre for Refugees. In spring 2016, this 58,000sf facility will become the first of its kind in the world, bringing together a variety of community and government services and organizations to meet the immediate needs of refugees and immigrants settling in BC. Learn more about the new Welcome House.