At least 550 non-Syrian refugees came to Calgary in 2015
By: Aaron Chatha Metro, Published on Sat Jan 02 2016
While news stories of Syrian refugees touching down in Calgary flooded the media at the end of 2015, they weren’t the only refugees escaping a horrific situation in their home countries.
At least 550 non-Syrian refugees also came to Calgary in 2015, mainly from the countries of Iraq, Burma and Nigeria, according Fariborz Birjandian, vice chair of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
“Media creates focus, gets people talking about something, but the Iraqis are in the same situation,” explained Birjandian. “There have been Iraq refugees sitting back in Turkey and Jordan for many, many years now. It’s the same situation; a lot of them are suffering as well.”
Of those 550 refugees, 250 were privately sponsored through CCIS, and 300 were government sponsored.
Birjandian said the attention paid to the refugees from Syria was great for CCIS – as they could help people apply what they learned about Syrians to other groups in need as well.
A refugee himself, Birjandian said Calgary has a history being very welcoming to refugees, regardless of what situation they are escaping from.
According to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, an estimated 2 million people were displaced in Iraq by December 2015, as a result of armed conflict and a constantly changing security situation, mainly in central Iraq and the Kurdistan region.
War has brought increased rates of illness and disease to the country, while displacing doctors. An upsurge of violence from extremist groups in 2014 forced many families to move multiple times, and many others have been declared stateless in the country.