October 28, 2016

First airlift of Syrian refugees land in Toronto on Thursday

Two Canadian government flights carrying Syrian refugees will reach Toronto today and Montreal two days later, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Reuters)

OTTAWA:  The first of 25,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in Canada will arrive in the country today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, declaring it will be “a great day.”

The new prime minister campaigned on the plan to resettle 25,000 people displaced by the four-year civil war in Syria, but the idea came under increasing political fire following the attacks in Paris.

Two Canadian government flights carrying the refugees will reach Toronto today and Montreal two days later, Trudeau said.

The flights, carrying a total of about 300 Syrians, will use an Airbus A310 military aircraft. Charter planes are expected to be used for later flights.

Upon landing in Canada, the refugees will undergo medical exams, take care of administrative formalities and then be spread out for resettlement in 36 cities across Canada.

The new Liberal government campaigned on a pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrians this year.

But it backpedaled last month, citing logistical issues and following criticism that Ottawa had been moving too fast, amid security concerns heightened by the deadly terror attacks in Paris.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said that he remains hopeful the government can bring in 10,000 refugees by December 31. A further 15,000 are expected to arrive by the end of February.

Since the start of 2014, Canada has welcomed 3,500 Syrian refugees.

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