Federal government creates humanitarian aid fund for Syrian refugees

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Image: United Nations

The federal government has announced that it will be establishing an emergency humanitarian aid fund to assist people who have been affected by the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

International Development Minister Christian Paradis made the announcement earlier today that the Conservative government would match “eligible” donations by individual Canadians to registered charities.

The fund will have a ceiling of $100 million and expires on December 31. Individual contributions must not exceed $100,000 per person.

“The Fund will help meet the basic needs of conflict-affected people in the region, as well as in official development assistance-eligible transit countries for refugees,” reads a release by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

“The Government’s contribution to this fund will provide assistance through international and Canadian humanitarian organizations and will meet humanitarian needs such as shelter, food, health and water, as well as protection and emergency education.”

Donations must be made directly to Syrian refugee relief funds through non-governmental organizations such as UNHCR Canada.

Image: UNHCR

SEE ALSO: Refugee crisis: 5 ways Canadians can help

The move follows much criticism nationally and abroad over Canada’s stance with refusing to increase its refugee quotas in light of the serious extent of the refugee crisis.

However, Stephen Harper has maintained that the ‘floodgates’ cannot be opened due to the risk of terrorists slipping through. As well, the federal government has maintained that it is doing its part by contributing $503.5 million in humanitarian assistance for Syria and Iraq since 2012.

Many provincial and municipal leaders across the country are vowing to do more for refugees within the powers of their own jurisdictions. This includes B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s promise of a $1 million ‘readiness fund’ to help refugees fleeing war-torn Syria settle in B.C. as well as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s pledge of $10.5 million in funding over the next 2.5 years, largely to assist 10,000 refugees with resettling in Ontario.

According to the United Nations, over 4 million people have fled war-torn Syria while another 12 million within the country have been displaced by violence and hunger. Millions more are affected in neighbouring Iraq.

As many as 450,000 refugees have entered Germany this year to date and there are estimates this number could well to 800,000 by the end of the year. Sweden, a country of just 10 million people, accepted more than 80,000 refugees in 2014 and is expected to open its doors to similar numbers this year.

The refugee crisis became a forefront issue in Canada following the circulation of photos of a dead Syrian toddler lying face down on a Turkish beach.

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