First Syrian Refugees Fly from Turkey to Canada

Turkey - IOM, in collaboration with the Canadian and Turkish governments, last night (20/01) organized a charter flight to move 284 Syrian refugees from Ankara, Turkey to Toronto, Canada.

They were the first Syrian refugees to depart Turkey as part of Canada’s commitment to relocate 25,000 Syrian refugees from the region. Over 10,000 Syrians have already been moved to Canada from Jordan and Lebanon under the programme. 

IOM is supporting the Canadian government by providing transport, basic registration, biometrics, interpretation and logistics support. Canadian officials interview the refugees, record their biometrics and are responsible for security screening.

IOM then arranges travel (including flights). It also provides IOM translators and escorts on the flights to ensure that the refugees arrive safely in Toronto.

“With more than 2.5 million Syrians living in Turkey, I was elated to see the first flight depart from Turkey to Canada,” said IOM Turkey Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava. 

“Humanitarian transfers and resettlement give refugees a legal option to begin a new life in another country, rather than opting for dangerous irregular migration avenues like people smuggling. They protect the human rights of the refugees and provide a structured process for refugees and governments to mutually agree if relocation it is right for them,” he added. 

In order to be considered for Canadian humanitarian transfer, each Syrian had to register with Turkey’s Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM), the division of the Ministry of Interior responsible for migration management.
After DGMM referral, IOM Turkey contacted the referred person/family to facilitate the process of submitting paperwork and biometric information to the Canadian government. Canadian officials then interviewed each person or family and IOM provided medical screening. 

“The process to move a large number of Syrians from Turkey in this (tight) timeframe was challenging,” said veteran IOM Operations Coordinator Yasar Ogul. “But thanks to great collaboration and hard work by my IOM team and our Canadian and Turkish government counterparts, these people are getting a fresh start in a safe place. This is the first flight to Canada from Turkey, but it will not be the last.”

IOM Turkey has extensive experience in refugee resettlement. Between 2010–2015 it processed nearly 44,000 refugees for resettlement abroad. 

IOM Turkey Resettlement Operations 2010 - 2015
(Excludes current humanitarian transfers to Canada.)



Refugees resettled
by IOM Turkey













For more information, please contact Abby Dwommoh at IOM Turkey, Tel. +90.533.698.7285, Email: