The “voice of the asylum seeker” was heard this morning when representatives from four organizations serving refugee claimants released the inaugural issue of the Refugee Claimants Statistical Highlights bulletin at a press conference at ISSofBC Welcome Centre.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, the first mayor in Canada to speak out in favour of refugee claimants, announced funding approved recently by Vancouver City Council of $181,220 for these agencies: Inland Refugee Society, Settlement Orientation Services (through ISSofBC), Kinbrace Community Society, and Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture.
“With the recent influx and growing numbers of refugee claimants crossing the US border, we are very pleased to receive additional support from the City of Vancouver to meet these increased demands,” said Mona Hassannia, manager of Settlement Orientation Services (SOS).
The quarterly Refugee Claimants Statistical Highlights bulletin features data on cross-border arrivals and other claimant-related statistics, trends and observations. A flow chart showing how refugee claimants are handled in BC was also released. The publication is a joint undertaking of the four agencies as part of a collaborative effort to meet unprecedented service demands.
“The voice of the asylum seeker….is a voice that’s difficult to hear at times,” said Loren Balisky, executive director of Kinbrace Community Society. “The asylum seeker’s voice is hard to hear because it gets lost in the noise of pollsters and politicians who shamelessly conflate asylum seekers with risk and terrorism…(and) crowded out by our own instinctual fear of the ‘other’.”
But Petros, a former refugee claimant from East Africa who asked his full name and nationality not be published for fear of harm to family still back home, lent his voice this morning to the need to strengthen supports for asylum seeker. Quoting Martin Luther King, Petros said, “The time is always right to do the right thing.”
In the news
April 27, 2017 – Meet Petros, an African refugee on his way to becoming a Canadian – Vancouver Courier
April 27, 2017 – Vancouver announces $181K for refugee groups – CBC News
April 27, 2017 – Cash-strapped B.C. organizations seek to accommodate refugee influx – The Globe and Mail
April 26, 2017 – Increase in 2017 asylum claims sparks Vancouver refugee collaboration – Vancouver Metro