First plane with 163 Syrian refugees lands in Canada
The first Canadian plane transporting dozens of Syrian refugees has arrived in the Pearson International Airport of Toronto.
The asylum-seekers came on board a military aircraft with 163 Syrian refugees on Thursday.
The troop transport plane set out from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and made a stopover in Germany.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a few government ministers as well as Toronto mayor were at the airport to welcome the refugees.
“This is a wonderful night, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations,” Trudeau told staff and volunteers shortly before greeting the refugees.
A second plane will land in Montreal on Saturday with some 140 other Syrian refugees.
The arrivals are part of a plan promised by the newly-elected Canadian prime minister to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of February.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said the government remains hopeful to take in 10,000 refugees by the end of this year. He also said Canada’s all 10 provinces are ready to accept refugees.
Canada has received 3,500 refugees since the beginning of 2014.
Many Syrians are fleeing violence fueled by foreign-backed militancy in their country. The turmoil has claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced nearly half of the Syrian population within or beyond its borders since March 2011.