More than four dozen people fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power have now arrived in B.C., federal officials say.
Fifty refugees had touched down in B.C. as of Thursday, according to a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Volunteers have already begun work to help families with the resettlement process.
"We can't even imagine how much they are going through emotionally and mentally," said Queenie Choo, CEO of the non-profit S.U.C.C.E.S.S, which supports immigrants and refugees settling in Canada.
"It is important to look at how we can support them to make sure they are well so they can settle."
Where in Canada refugees will live depends on various factors, including ties to certain communities as well as overall settlement needs. The IRCC said "the vast majority" of the people who have landed in B.C. have family ties in the province.
Around 400 refugees are expected to arrive in B.C. by the end of October.
Choo said families will need help finding housing, accessing services and learning English. She said her team also offers employment services such as resume-writing, job hunting and interview preparation. There are also special programs for seniors and children.
"This is not just switch over one day once they've landed in Canada. It takes time for them to transition," said Choo.
The Canadian government has promised to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees by 2024, including 5,000 people who were airlifted out by the United States before its withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August.
Canada evacuated 3,700 people from Kabul near the end of August, of which some 2,000 were Afghans — and their families — who had helped Canadian soldiers and diplomats in the past. Canada ended its mission to Afghanistan in 2011 but military trainers stayed on until 2014.