Province issues response teams to assist arrival of refugees

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The BC government is setting up five response teams to help with the anticipated arrival of 2,500 refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

The Ministry of Jobs says the teams will be made up of settlement workers, private sponsors, churches, employers and healthcare staff.

They’ll be based in various regions and the province has committed another $1.5 million for language training, as the Immigrant Services Society of BC is hoping to hire and train thirty more interpreters.

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CEO Patricia Woroch says long waits for English-language training are a major challenge, and 95 per cent of those expected to arrive in BC will need it.

Meantime, the federal government insists it will meet its new target to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, despite reports indicating a lack of interest among them to come to Canada.

The Globe and Mail has reported only six per cent of those contacted by the United Nations — now mainly in Turkey and Lebanon expressed a Canadian relocation interest.

However, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship John McCallum says that will not stop the resettlement plan from going forward and there are more than nine thousand applications already in progress.

The government’s latest numbers also show 271 refugees have arrived in this country in the past month — 52 of them government sponsored — 11 with blended applications — and the 208 majority thanks to applications from private sponsors.

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