Manitoba prepares to welcome 350 Afghan refugees to the province

The province is preparing for a charter plane carrying 350 Afghan refugees to arrive in Manitoba, one year after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, according to Westman Immigrant Services

Read more: Afghanistan is a ‘disaster’ after a year of Taliban rule. What does the future hold?

The refugees will arrive in the province next week and from there they will be taken to either Brandon, Winkler or Winnipeg.

The city of Brandon will receive its largest amount of refugees at one time with 50 Afghan refugees.

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This charter is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghans in Canada, and Manitoba supports this commitment.

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“Those arriving are government-assisted refugees (GARs), whose resettlement supports are delivered by service provider organizations funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, under the Resettlement Assistance Program,” said a provincial spokesperson.

Click to play video: 'Thousands of Afghans who helped Canada still stuck under Taliban rule' Thousands of Afghans who helped Canada still stuck under Taliban rule

Thousands of Afghans who helped Canada still stuck under Taliban rule

One of the agencies working to support the refugees is IRCOM – an organization that offers subsidized affordable housing to newcomer refugee families.

“Our families come live with us for up to three years and in that time they get wrap-around services,” said Shereen Denetto, executive director at IRCOM.

Refugees tend to face many barriers, one of which is language. IRCOM helps with that.

“There’s a settlement on sight, there are after-school programs on-site, English classes…”

The idea behind it is to act as a stepping stone to help families settle in Canada for three years, making it easier for them to integrate into the community.

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Read more: Manitoba spending $1 million to support child-care services for newcomer families

“They’ve come here because of great hardships that they face. You really do need initial help when you first come to Canada as a refugee,” Denetto said, adding they’ve already taken in five Afghan families.

She said the trauma for those coming from a country of conflict means that mental health support is also a large part of the help provided.

“People who are refugees didn’t come to Canada because they chose to come here, they came because of the circumstances they are fleeing,” Denetto said.

Click to play video: '1 year under Taliban rule: What has changed in Afghanistan?' 1 year under Taliban rule: What has changed in Afghanistan?

1 year under Taliban rule: What has changed in Afghanistan?

Since the Taliban regained control last year, more than 300 refugees have already sought asylum in Manitoba.

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Read more: Manitoba invests $5.1M to help newcomers settle

U.S military troops pulled out of the war-torn country on Aug. 30, 2021, and experts say what has transpired under the Taliban’s rule is a humanitarian crisis.

“The level of stress those people are living in is unbelievable, so people are really happy to be here,” she added.

“They’ve potentially been in camps, they have been travelling around from place to place, so coming to Canada gives them that place of stability and that sense of home,” said Holt.

Additionally, Manitoba is providing $5.1 million through the Newcomer Community Integration Support program to 15 organizations across Manitoba to assist in helping newcomers adapt, according to a provincial spokesperson.

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