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Canada: calls for unis to support Afghan refugees

Canadian global development organisation WUSC is calling on Canadian universities and colleges to support its Refugee Support Program in the wake of Afghan unrest.

The Canadian government announced they would be accepting 40,000 Afghan refugees for resettlement. Photo: iStock

In 2015, WUSC called on institutions to step up when the situation in Syria escalated

In September, the Canadian government announced it would be accepting 40,000 Afghan refugees for resettlement after the Taliban took hold of Afghanistan in August.

Now, one of Canada’s leading non-profits for young people is challenging colleges, universities and CEGEPs in Quebec to increase their support for the refugees – to “step up and lend a hand”.

WUSC launched its Student Refugee Program over 30 years ago, and has sponsored more than 2,200 refugees from almost 40 countries across the world.

The refugees have studied at over 100 college and university campuses, as well as CEGEP schools in Quebec.

WUSC has issued this “challenge” to invite more post-secondary institutions across the country to join the effort and take in more refugees as the Canadian government issues its commitment to resettle 40,000 more.

“We challenge Canadian universities, colleges and CEGEPs to continue Canada’s proud history of responding to the needs of refugees during times of crisis,” said executive director at WUSC Chris Eaton.

According to the non-profit, 38 campuses have already expressed interest in the scheme, wanting to learn about how they can be “part of the solution through the program”.

Of the thousands of refugees WUSC has already settled in Canada, 60 have been from Afghanistan, so the numbers involved in the government’s proposed settlement scheme far supersede that of what has come before.

“We ask them to join our efforts by providing education and safe haven to Afghan youth”

This is not the first time that WUSC has made such a request.

In 2015, it called on institutions to step up when the situation in Syria escalated, with 80 refugee students from the country eventually being resettled by partner universities, colleges and CEGEPs.

“We [now] ask them to join our efforts by providing education and safe haven to Afghan youth through WUSC’s long-standing [program],” Eaton added.

WUSC stated the situation is “particularly pressing” for girls and young women, most of whom have not been allowed back into a classroom since the Taliban takeover.

Since 2001, the amount of girls enrolled at schools in the country rose to 39% of students, which now looks to be under threat from the Taliban’s rulebook.

Not only is WUSC looking for more post-secondary partners to help settle the displaced refugees, but it is also seeking new institutional partners to start the Student Refugee Program on campuses.

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