Syrian refugees waiting for private sponsorship in Canada

Photo: Michel Huneault
Nour Ismail, Hayan Hlaibeih and Sara Hlaibeih in the apartment of Antalya, Turkey. They have fled Syria and are awaiting a response to the request of private sponsorship is filed in Canada.

“It is as if the queue was woken up,” said Sara Hlaibeih. But this is not the hope that she feels that she revived for the moment, “it is more as if someone had said to me” don’t fall asleep, you still wait “”.


She has 28 years old, has fled Syria and is living in Turkey for almost five years. The cap of the new year will turn again to Antalya, where she shares an apartment with his brother Hayan and with Nour Ismail, his sister-in-law and friend.


With 2018, again, the impatience of coming to Canada through private sponsorship. The sister of Sara and Hayan, Hala Hlaibeih is based in Toronto since 2007. Its sponsorship commitment, which was filed in December 2016, has just been approved.


The next step is therefore to be called for an interview at the canadian embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital. This interview may be imminent… or not.


“We are still in uncertainty for the time,” says Sara. Her sister Hala calculates that this wait could last up to another year. The federal department of Immigration, indicates that another 7 months for the visa office in Ankara deal with this application.


Swallowed up in the statistics


Hala Hlaibeih had stepped up its efforts to file the sponsorship application in December 2016, prior to Ottawa’s announcement of a moratorium.


A canadian citizen occupying a position of responsibility in Kijiji, it had already sponsored his two parents and his little brother who lives with Down syndrome. It was therefore impossible to repeat quickly a request.


Faced with the impossibility of handling cases in a reasonable period of time, the federal department of Immigration has imposed limits as early as January 2017, the filing of new applications for refugee sponsored privately.


Quebec, which manages its own immigration plan, he had followed suit a few weeks later. We learned last week that the moratorium provincial is extended until June 2018.


They are 40 080 syrian refugees to be landed in Canada since the arrival of the liberals to power in November 2015. More than 14,000 of them have been sponsored by the private sector, often by their family, like the family Hlaibeih.


In Turkey, rather, they are 3.3 million syrian refugees who have registered with us. In total, the High Commissioner for refugees United Nations calculates that at least 5.5 million people who have fled the country.


Sara Hlaibeih had always wanted to travel. But at the time it had the most need for mobility, she has the impression that the whole world has turned its back. The son of Turkish of their current owner came to Toronto last summer to improve his English. Parents Hlaibeih have received : “It was terrible to think that he ate the food of my mother, it was so easy for him. “


A few members of their extended family have already joined Europe, and she has seen several friends go underground.


Impossible to win


That has happened since our visit, there was more than 14 months ? “Nothing, really, nothing. “She teaches English, and now Arabic.


October 2016, rather it is the numbness that had dominated Sara. In preparing a typical meal with his two roommates, she was commenting on the color of the walls, entirely of roses, reinforcing the impression of ” being in limbo “.


Of limbo she didn’t dare to shake it off, for fear of being again disappointed. “I don’t just read the news and think of all the things I could do in my twenties. I can’t say to my students and to people who surround me “ I really want to from here ”. Trying to think that one is not “ taken ” here. “


Five years have yet passed since she had to flee Latakia. She had no intention to leave Syria when the descent into hell is triggered, from protests brutally repressed by the Assad regime in 2011.


When agents of the secret service ransacked the apartment she shared with her lover and some friends, they are all gone in a few days. Their only crime had been to want to live differently, that is to say together without being married, and of several different faiths. “We wanted to build a space to dream,” said Sara Hlaibeih. The police syrian believed to find evidence of affiliation with a subversive movement.


It is also a vise that was closing. Accused of a side not to support the plan, even if they are alawites, like Bashar al-Assad. Their cousin was killed in 2012, for the same reason : it was alawite and taught in Deir al-Zour, a city in north-eastern Syria fell into the hands of the group AR, and repeated quite recently with the help of the shelling of Russian air traffic.


“Neutrality is the worst position in a crisis,” says the young woman. She has the title of a TedX conference at the international University of Antalya.


Nour, Hayan and Sara are now afraid that their Turkish neighbors their turn as the back. They don’t speak Arabic in the streets and in the market. If the war was declared ended, they fear that the Syrians will be deported quickly.


The horizon has tightened since the attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016. The country ” islamise “, she notes, recalling one of their syrian friends died in the bombing of the club Reina in Istanbul, last December 31. “It becomes a bad idea too to celebrate. “


“I have the impression of not being able to change anything actively. I can only tell me that the wars end, people will forget. I’m not negative, I just stopped by to let me “, thought Sara in a loud voice.


Later she says : “Nihilist, this is the word I was looking for ! “


“My name is Sara Hlaibeih. I was born in Latakia […] ” Soon, the three members of the family still in Turkey will revert to their history between the walls of the embassy of Canada. This time, Sara will not do to bury his memories away, but hoping to be able to write the next chapter.

Evacuations of the Ghouta western

Evacuations of civilians due to humanitarian emergency began last Tuesday from the region of Ghouta, to the south-east of Damascus. The last stronghold of the rebellion at the gates of the capital of Syria, the deprivation of food is used as a tactic of war, warned the UN at the end of October. The Ghouta has been under siege by the troops of the Assad regime since 2013. In exchange for these evacuations, the insurgents have agreed to release detainees of the regime, according to the syrian Observatory of human rights. On Friday, dozens of jihadist and rebel fighters have left the region in the direction of the provinces of Idleb and dera’a.

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