Canada to accept 20,000 vulnerable Afghans such as women leaders, human rights workers

OTTAWA – Canada plans to resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights workers and reporters to protect them from Taliban reprisals, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on Friday.

The effort is in addition to an earlier initiative to welcome thousands of Afghans who worked for the Canadian government, such as interpreters, embassy workers and their families, he told a news conference.


“As the Taliban continues to take over more of Afghanistan, many more Afghans’ lives are under increasing threat,” he said. He did not provide a timetable.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said some Canadian special forces were in Afghanistan taking part in the relocation effort but gave no details.

“The challenges on the ground are quite immense,” he said.

Canada’s new plan would focus on those who are particularly vulnerable, including women leaders, human rights defenders, reporters, persecuted religious minorities and members of the gay and lesbian community, Mendicino said.


It covers both people who want to leave Afghanistan and those already in neighboring countries.

The Taliban have seized Afghanistan’s second- and third-biggest cities as resistance from government forces crumbled. read more

“We know the situation is dire. It’s getting worse by the hour,” said Mendicino.

Unemployment increased for the first time in nine months. Before Omicron, Canada’s unemployment was at 6%, according to the December Labour Force Survey. The increase in unemployment last month was largely due to temporary lay-offs and people who were scheduled to start working in the near future. The number of people looking for work was little changed.

“There are numerous factors driving the larger than expected decline in Canadian jobs, including the closure of in-person schooling, indoor dining and recreation in some provinces,” said Jim Mitchell, president of LHH Canada, in an email to CIC News, “With one of the largest recorded unemployment rates since April 2021, we are seeing a dip in both full-time and part-time employment, yet it remains unclear whether these drops are correlated with January related seasonal cuts and voluntary resignations.”

RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen said the Omicron variant made a “larger-than-expected dent” in the Canadian economy. However, he expects the damage to be temporary as provinces relax public health measures.

“Although the January labour market data looks exceptionally bad, we expect the recovery to start in February with virus spread and containment measures already easing in parts of the country (including Ontario and Quebec),” Janzen wrote.

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