170 Afghan refugees welcomed to Edmonton by Catholic Social Services

A group of 170 Afghans who had been in hiding until a flight to Canada could be secured have arrived in their new home in Edmonton.

According to Catholic Social Services (CSS), the group had been hiding since August 2021 and includes dozens of human rights defenders and their family members. CSS and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada collaborated to ensure the group’s safe travel.

“Many of those arriving worked for decades documenting human rights abuses and war crimes in Afghanistan and intend to continue their work, once settled, with the assistance of Canadian and international non-governmental organizations,” said Laura Kelm, CSS spokesperson.

“It’s been a busy day,” Kathryn Friesen, CSS director of the immigration and settlement service, told CTV News Edmonton in an interview.

The group is part of 250 refugees from a charter flight that arrived in Calgary on Tuesday. They will now complete their COVID-19 quarantine before moving into homes in Edmonton.

“It’s definitely not an ideal way to welcome people into a community to say, ‘Welcome to Canada! Here’s a room you have to stay in for 14-days,'” Friesen said. “But it’s the world we are all living in, and we are experiencing lots of understanding.”

To make the quarantine time easier, Friesen said that families will receive Afghan cuisine and tablets along with activity packages and toys for children.

“We will have some virtual information sessions,” she added. “As close to face-to-face interaction as we can.”

CSS will then provide the families with language training, orientation, accommodation, and other resources as needed to acclimate to living in Canada. Since August, CSS has resettled more than 100 refugees in Edmonton and Red Deer.

To support CSS and its refugee programming, visit the non-profit’s website

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