‘I’m feeling so happy’: Charter flight carrying 324 Afghan refugees arrives in Winnipeg

A charter flight from Pakistan arrived in Winnipeg Friday morning carrying 324 Afghan refugees who are about to resettle in Canada after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan last summer.

The charter is part of the federal government’s commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghans in Canada. So far, around 17,600 Afghans have been welcomed to Canada through a humanitarian program and a special immigration program for Afghans who assisted the government.

Sayed Mohammad, who’s from Afghanistan, spent the past 10 months in Islamabad, Pakistan before arriving on the charter with his wife and two children.

His son Sayed Inaam, who is two years old, waved a mini Canadian flag outside James Richardson International Airport as the family waited to board a bus to a Winnipeg hotel before carrying on with their journey.

“I’m feeling so happy I arrived to Canada,” Mohammad said. “My final destination is Toronto.”

Boris Ntambwe, manager of resettlement and housing for Accueil Francophone, is organizing support in Manitoba for the newly-arrived refugees.

He said the flight landed around 7 a.m. People travelled around 20 hours and are now getting help in Winnipeg adjusting to life in Canada.

“Everything happened as scheduled. And we’re so happy to see everybody coming out excited and healthy and happy,” Ntambwe said. “It’s our first charter flight bringing Afghans. We are excited to have this as our first experience. So far everything was well.”

Of the 324 refugees who arrived on the flight, Ntambwe said 115 will remain in Manitoba — 53 people in Winnipeg, 50 in Brandon, Man. and 12 in Winkler, Man. — while many others will now head elsewhere across Canada.

“We have people going all over the country,” Ntambwe said, noting the refugees will be heading to Vancouver, Montreal, Saskatoon and Alberta, among other places. “The next phase will be to get all the folks domestic flights.”

This is a developing story more details to come.

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