City still await­ing ar­rival of refugees

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONTPAGE - ALAN S. HALE

It’s been well over a year since Tim­mins pre­pared to do its part to help al­le­vi­ate the refugee cri­sis that has been caus­ing mas­sive hu­man­i­tar­ian and po­lit­i­cal prob­lems in the Mid­dle East and Europe.

But even as com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try have been re­set­tling mul­ti­ple waves of Syr­ian refugees, Tim­mins still finds it­self wait­ing.

The chair­man of the Tim­mins Refugee Spon­sor­ship Com­mit­tee, Tom Baby, said the first Syr­ian fam­ily matched up with Tim­mins ap­pears to be stuck in bu­reau­cratic limbo in Turkey. Not many de­tails have been pro­vided by the UN to the com­mit­tee other than to say the fam­ily is still un­der­go­ing health and se­cu­rity screen­ings.

“There was no time­line on when – or even if – they will get through that,” said Baby.

With any hope that the orig­i­nal fam­ily will be ap­proved to travel to Tim­mins dwin­dling, the city has been as­signed an­other fam­ily in their place.

“We have re­ceived a re­place­ment case for that fam­ily. So what that means is es­sen­tially that we should ex­pect this new fam­ily we’ve been matched with to come within what they call ‘the stan­dard time of ar­rival,’ which is one to four months,” said Baby. “We were told that last time, so we’re tak­ing that with a grain of salt and we’re manag­ing our ex­pec­ta­tions ... but we’re hop­ing that it will be the case.”

The re­place­ment fam­ily has five mem­bers, with three chil­dren un­der the un­der the age of 11. The fam­ily knows some English and the chil­dren have had some school­ing – not some­thing that can be said of ev­ery young child in Syria.

The refugee com­mit­tee man­aged to put to­gether enough re­sources to set­tle two refugee fam­i­lies for a year, but while one fam­ily may be on its way, they have not had any luck be­ing matched up with a sec­ond fam­ily at all.

The sim­ple fact, said Baby, is there is sim­ply not as many refugees to re­set­tle as their once was, and many Canadian com­mu­ni­ties have ap­plied to take in refugees.

“So we’re kind of on the wait­ing list for that sec­ond fam­ily,” he said. “We re­ally don’t have any time line on that.”

All money and items do­nated by Tim­mins res­i­dents and busi­nesses are wait­ing for the fam­ily’s ar­rival. The com­mit­tee raised $90,000, which was three times their orig­i­nal fundrais­ing goal. That money is now sit­ting in a se­cure bank ac­count with the en­tire amount ear­marked for the fam­i­lies when they ar­rive.

All the do­nated items have also been put into stor­age space do­nated by a lo­cal busi­ness.

Un­for­tu­nately, the apart­ments that the com­mit­tee had ready for the refugee fam­i­lies are gone. Af­ter all the many de­lays, the land­lords who had orig­i­nally of­fered to lease them rent-free for a year had to put them back up on the mar­ket.

“We are ac­tively look­ing for apart­ments that might be avail­able. But this time we are not go­ing to se­cure ac­com­mo­da­tions un­til we get the no­tice that the fam­ily is on their way here, so we avoid what hap­pened with the pre­vi­ous apart­ments.”

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