Palestinian refugees in Iraq

Thursday, March 12 2009

In a letter sent to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Hon. Jason Kenney, the chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Most Rev. Brendan O’Brien, Archbishop of Kingston, asked the Canadian government for an “immediate intervention” on behalf of Palestinian refugees currently living in “extreme poverty and danger”.

Honorable Jason Kenney
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Fax: 613-992-1920

Dear Minister Kenney:

First of all, congratulations on your nomination as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.  Given the increasing global phenomenon of immigration, we are well aware of the many responsibilities that will encumber upon you.

Following the 25 January 2008 letter by the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the protection of Christian Iraqi refugees, the Human Rights Committee of the Conference would like to draw your attention also to a number of other distressing situations and human rights violations taking place around the world, in the hope of restoring respect for the dignity of those concerned.  We would like to inform you of the particularly dramatic situation being experienced by 2, 300 Palestinian refugees who have fled Iraq and presently find themselves in refugee camps along the border with Syria.  The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (HCR) has sent out an urgent appeal on the situation.  Unfortunately, Western countries have been slow to answer.

We would like to highlight the support with which the Government of Canada has already welcomed Iraqi refugees over the past two years.  However, the need for reinstallation is still great and Palestinian refugees present a particular emergency.  They continue to live in extreme poverty and danger.  Their security is continually threatened and the surrounding countries are unable to absorb the surplus in demands for lodging, medical care, and education that their situation has provoked.

We know that the Government of Canada has not yet made a commitment to the HCR’s call for the public refugee sponsor program.  We are therefore asking for an immediate intervention on behalf of these refugees who are presently among the most vulnerable.  We believe that such action is also a way to contribute towards peace in this war torn region.



Most Reverend Brendan M. O’Brien
Archbishop of Kingston
President of the Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

CC: Honorable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs