First Sikh and Hindu Afghan refugees arrive in Canada

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As part of this year’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of the successful Private Sponsorship refugee program, the Government of Canada welcomed the first arrival of Sikh and Hindu minority refugee families from Afghanistan.

Minister Sajjan greeted the first privately-sponsored families from among the approved Afghan minority refugee claimants after their arrival in Calgary.

Canada is a global leader in resettling the world’s most vulnerable, and government has worked very closely with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation and other partners to ensure safe resettlement opportunities in Canada.

Manmeet Singh Bhullar was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta who was known for his compassion and support for his community. Unfortunately, he tragically lost his life while helping a stranded motorist but his legacy continues to positively affect those in Canada and around the world.

His advocacy was instrumental in starting this process to assist the vulnerable Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan. We are proud to carry on the legacy of Minister Sajjan’s close friend in partnership with the foundation that bears his name through this humanitarian resettlement.

The Sikh and Hindu communities that have lived in Afghanistan for hundreds of years, now number less than 1,000 individuals. Prior to 1992, their population numbered over 200,000, however due to persecution and discrimination, most have been forced to flee to other countries. The Afghan Sikh and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan are the most vulnerable who do not have the resources or ability to relocate.

In December 2014, Sikh and Hindu families from Afghanistan’s Helmand region reached out to the WSO for help. In turn the WSO asked Manmeet Singh Bhullar for his assistance. He single-handedly oversaw the safe exit of each Sikh and Hindu family from Helmand to India and helped find local organizations to assist with their basic needs. As refugees in India have no legal status, receive no government assistance and often live in poverty, Manmeet strongly advocated for steps to help bring these families to Canada.

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees program has helped resettle thousands of the world’s most vulnerable. This program is built on the generosity of Canadians and will continue to help resettle those most in need. Individuals donate the costs of refugee sponsorship, maintaining legal responsibility to ensure settlement supports are provided to refugees. -CINEWS

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