A new wave of refugees has settled in the Harbour City. A total of 40 government-assisted refugees from Syria and Eritrea have arrived in Nanaimo since mid-November, according to the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society. Kelly McBride, director of operations for the society, said the 40 individuals are from five families and that they are expecting more government-assisted refugees to arrive within the coming weeks.”We are looking at 50 individuals by the end of December and early January,” she said. “Another three families.” Although the majority of refugees to arrive in Nanaimo have been from Syria, four privately sponsored refugees from the African nation of Eritrea landed in the city earlier this year.McBride said they’re expecting more government assisted refugees to come from nations such as Eritrea.According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, some 65.3 million people have been displaced around the world, with 21.3 million of them classified as refugees.
A 2016 report by the UNHCR estimates that there were 2.7 million refugees from Afghanistan; 736,100 refugees from Ethiopia; 541,500 refugees from Democratic Republic of the Congo; 451,800 refugees from Myanmar; and 321,300 refugees from the Ukraine at the end of 2015. Nanaimo could see more government-assisted refugees arriving beyond January. McBride said she has no idea about how many could be coming or when they are coming.”We are not necessarily given a whole lot of lead time on knowing,” she said. “The information is fed from the government as they get the information through. It’s a multi-layered system.” As of Dec. 11, there have been a total of 37,402 refugees settled nationwide since November of 2015 according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.