Hundreds more Afghan refugees arrive in Canada, including human rights defenders

·1 min read
People attempting to flee the Taliban climb on a plane at the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
People attempting to flee the Taliban climb on a plane at the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

The federal government announced on Tuesday the arrival of more than 250 Afghan refugees.

The refugees — most of whom are described as human rights defenders by the federal government — are the latest to arrive in Canada since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban last year.

A charter flight carrying the refugees arrived in Calgary from Islamabad, Pakistan.

"It is a privilege to welcome today this cohort of Afghan refugees, who face persecution as a result of their work to protect the human rights of others," said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in a media statement.

"I am grateful for their work to document and prevent human rights abuses and proud that they now call our country home."

Ottawa says about 6,750 Afghan nationals have been resettled in Canada since the Taliban took over. They include Afghans who assisted the Canadian military during its mission in Afghanistan.

The refugees also include Afghans deemed vulnerable, such as women leaders, members of religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ individuals and journalists.

The group of 252 refugees includes 170 people considered human rights defenders by the government.

The remaining 82 are people whose employment involved a "significant and/or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, and their families," the government said in a news release.

Those individuals, who are judged by Ottawa to have contributed to the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms, are eligible to apply for resettlement in Canada as part of a new dedicated stream.

The government has pledged to resettle up to 250 human rights defenders per year from around the world.

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