OCASI letter re: Canada's humanitarian response to crisis in Sudan
May 3, 2023 / Toronto
OCASI wrote to Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship and Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs in support of the safe repatriation of Sudanese Canadians who are currently fleeing from the war in Sudan.
OCASI welcomes the temporary special measures Canada has put in place for Sudanese nationals in Canada, including extension of stay in Canada or change status as visitor, student or temporary worker free of charge; waiving biometric fees; waiving travel documents for permanent resident applicants outside Canada; temporary halt of removals to Sudan; and airlifting more than 375 Canadians as of the weekend.
We are deeply concerned at reports of the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers in nearby regions, including allegations of racism against Sudanese nationals at the Egyptian borders. We are also deeply concerned by reports of the mistreatment of Ethiopian* refugees within Sudan and near South Sudan borders. We urge the government of Canada to demand that these allegations are investigated and addressed, and use all available means to ensure Sudanese and Ethiopian* refugees are treated with dignity and respect.
The government of Canada has a responsibility to advocate for the fair and humane treatment of all refugees and asylum seekers, regardless of their origin or background, while paying particular attention to the current geopolitical context and potential for larger escalations which can result in more people being displaced.
OCASI echoes Sudanese Canadian groups and their families abroad in their call on the government for the following immediate policy and humanitarian interventions:
- mental health and emotional support and trauma informed services
- health services
- temporary shelter such as hotels and shelters, and transition and longer-term housing
- immediate personal needs such as clothes, hygienic supplies and other basic necessities on the ground in Sudan when possible, in neighboring regions and in all repatriation areas, as well as in Canada.
We also urge the government of Canada to add the following to the special measures already announced, consistent with the measures provided for Ukrainian nationals:
- Exempt Sudanese nationals 17 or younger and 61 or older from biometrics. This would be an expansion of the current biometric requirements for people 14 and younger or 79 and older;
- Provide a 90-day grace period after arrival to obtain a medical test; and
- Provide Sudanese nationals already in Canada and family members of Sudanese Canadians enroute to Canada with temporary resident permits of upto three years
*Correction: Reference to Tigré refugees in the previous post is corrected to Ethiopian refugees. For more information review UNHCR updates on Sudan.