Some Syrian families feel ’hopeless’ as government-sponsored refugees in Canada

Orient Net - CBC News 2016-01-26 11:39:00

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Some government-sponsored Syrian refugees staying at a budget hotel in Toronto say they feel like they’re "trapped in a prison" without hope due to a lack of communication, supplies and assistance. 

Zaneb Adri Abu-Rukti, a Syrian mother, spoke through a translator at the Toronto hotel, and said she did not expect to be there for so long. 

"We were told that when we arrived to the hotel that we would only be staying for three to four days maximum. However, things have been changed and we’ve been here for 10 to 11 days, and we’ve been told it could be even longer. The problem is that we have kids and we would rather be outside in a settled house than sitting at a hotel," Abu-Rukti said.

"We feel like our kids are just stuck here. We go into one room, we eat, and then we return to other room and just go to bed. Our kids don’t have anywhere to play, nowhere to go out. We feel like we’re just trapped in a prison."

’Two classes of refugees’

Kate Bate, a Canadian who has been doing volunteer work, said some newcomers feel isolated. 

"We’re worried, first of all, that we’re facing a major mental-health crisis if somebody doesn’t start going in there and speaking to them every single day to find out if they are doing OK. For the past week and a half, and in one case there’s a guy who’s been there for a month, and no one has been talking to them," Bate said.

"We’re very worried that what we are facing is, two classes of refugees. We’ve got this nurtured, loved, family supported by 35 families, and then we’ve got 100 families supported by one or two people," the volunteer said.

"They used to provide for their families, but now they feel like they can’t do that and they’re hopeless."

Syrian child in hotel

One of the children who went to the hospital with a respiratory illness and developed this rash overnight. Some volunteers had to drive refugees to hospitals for treatment. 

The volunteer said the difference between government and privately sponsored refugees is "vast," and the immigration minister should modify his approach. 

"John McCallum needs to allow private sponsor groups to sponsor government-sponsored refugees," said Johnson. "To me, it would make sense to allow those government-sponsored refugees to be sponsored immediately."

For the Syrian mother, the isolation is taking a toll. 

"I feel even though we chose to come out to Canada and it was something that we chose to do, it was our right and we chose it, however, it’s not what we expected and it’s not what we thought we would come into," said Abu-Rukti.