IOM, Canada Open Processing Center in Amman, Jordan for Canada-bound Refugees
Jordan – IOM, together with its partners in the Canadian government, as well as participants from UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council, this week (29/11) began the process of registering Syrian refugees slated for resettlement in Canada later this month from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
The refugees are part of the larger group of 25,000 men, women and children, Canada is committed to resettling by early spring 2016.
“We have over 100 regular and temporary IOM staff working on this. It’s our major effort here during this humanitarian emergency,” said IOM Jordan Chief of Mission Enrico Ponziani.
Canada’s National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum toured the site outside Amman, Jordan, on Sunday, together with Canada’s Ambassador to Jordan, Bruno Saccomani.
“The hardships of refugees who both live in urban centers and in refugee camps are poignant reminders of the importance of the work Canada is doing in the region in both bringing refugees to Canada, and supporting aid work in the region,” said Jane Philpott, who also chairs the Canadian parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees.
Earlier the Canadian delegation toured the Za’atari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, home to approximately 80,000 of the nearly 800,000 Syrians who have entered Jordan during five years of violence in their homeland. By comparison, well over a million Syrians now reside in Lebanon, and at least two million more live in Turkey. Millions more Syrians are displaced internally.
The Amman processing center sprawls inside a former military hangar which recently has served as an exhibition space. IOM operates a fleet of buses bringing Syrian families into the center from across northern Jordan.
Families, many with small children, wait in an airy foyer amid rows of plastic chairs. The only distraction is a wide-screen television, although nearby are spaces for a children’s playroom with toys and two prayer rooms, one for men and one for women.
IOM handled 100 individuals on its first day of operation, Sunday, and another 188 yesterday (30/11). IOM’s Ponziani said in short order he expects to be processing 500 people daily.
The center includes rooms for medical exams, as well as cubicles to take passport-size photographs of all applicants. IOM staffers spread over about a dozen cubicles take families in groups, checking their names and vital biographical data against a central data list.
IOM interviewers make no inquiries as to the religious practices of the families, however, all males are asked to describe any previous military service they may have had in Syria.
Military service is not a disqualifier for resettlement, however, interview subjects must explain the rank they served under and describe the type of unit. The families also undergo biometric screening for identification purposes.
At present, no date yet has been set for the first charter flight taking refugees from the region to Canada. The first flight will likely leave from Jordan with refugees processed at the Amman center. Over the coming weeks IOM will transport refugees interviewed in Beirut into Jordan for flights to Canada. Refugees to be processed by IOM in Turkey may fly directly to Canada from that country, or also may be brought to Jordan for their departure.