Refugees: a former official deplores the obsession with targets

durant-campagne-electorale-liberaux-engagesAs he watches his former colleagues to work extra hard to accommodate thousands of Syrian refugees before the end of the year, an official who helped coordinate the last major Canadian refugee hosting program is concerned that the obsession achieving the figures betray a political game.

Gerry Van Kessel’s enough to see the Liberal government constantly set goals for the reception of refugees from Syria program, then change them.

“There is a superficial side in all this, which keeps the attention on appearances and not on the substance,” he said in an interview.

“And for what purpose? They are doing something that the public approves. Now, public attention will not cover what they actually do, but any manipulation that surrounds it. ”

Mr. Van Kessel was the Director General, Refugees section for the Department of Immigration when Canada has evacuated 5,000 Kosovars and accelerated the relocation of more than 2,000 others in 1999.

When his former colleagues saw him and the Syrian government program, they knew it would be impossible to bring more than three times the amount of people in just four months.

What has happened since is nothing other than politics, he said.

“It has become a political issue for the Liberals – their nervousness stemming from the fact that they are aware of their inability to keep their promise. – So they pretend they hold it”

In March, the Liberals pledged to accommodate 25,000 Syrian refugees. During the election campaign, when the refugee crisis has become a hot topic, they promised to welcome them “immediately”, which was then defined as “before 31 December.” Once elected, they have revised this, saying that they rather would host 10,000 people by the end of the year, and 15 000 by the end of February.

The same kind of thing happened around the support. The initial idea that 25,000 refugees cared for by the government would be welcomed by the end of the year has been specified, the Liberal Party saying that this objective also reflected the assisted refugees and privately sponsored.

Whatever the details, the 25,000 individuals would be selected by the end of 2015, they said.

Finally, last week, the Minister of Immigration announced that it could not ensure that 10,000 Syrians would be in Canada before the end of the week, but the target of 25 000 by the end of February was held .

And selection of 25,000 refugees by the end of the year was replaced by 10,000 by the end of 2015.

According to the Department of Immigration, December 26, 2413 refugees had landed in Canada. 27 and 28, 1452 more were expected. Nine government flights are planned for the three days in 2015.

The government has given various reasons to explain the changes to the program, as unfavorable flying conditions or pressure of people asking him to take more time to assess safety issues.

Gerry Van Kessel sees two potential pitfalls the fact to put as much pressure with a date: that officials feel obliged to take shortcuts to achieve the objectives, and that other programs are neglected.

“The resettlement program is a really good program, he loose. And I do not like that it serves political games. ”

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