Green Party Statement for UN World Refugee Day

OTTAWA – The UN Refugee Agency estimates that there are now almost 80 million forcibly displaced persons including 26 million refugees. On UN World Refugee Day, the Green Party of Canada commits to: #StepWithRefugees - Every Action Counts.

In March, Canada closed the Canada-US border to non-essential travel, turning back irregular migrants arriving on foot from the United States. In an April media release, the Canadian Council for Refugees called on the government to reopen the border to refugees.

“Canada must welcome asylum seekers fleeing the United States because Donald Trump’s America is not  a safe country,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “We must ensure appropriate quarantine measures are in place for refugees, but turning them back is inhumane.” 

The Green Party is also calling for a national discussion to define the term “environmental refugee,” and is recommending its inclusion as a refugee category in Canada. In Reimagining Our Future, the Green COVID-19 recovery plan, the party advocates for a global commitment to protecting migrant and refugee populations.

“Growing numbers of people are being forced to flee their homes to escape the impacts of climate change,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Unfortunately the situation is going to get worse, so Canada needs to be prepared to accept its share of environmental refugees. 

“Refugees and asylum seekers arrive having fled unimaginable situations in their home countries. They seek the same things we all aspire to: safety, dignity and community. The tapestry of Canadian society has been, and continues to be,  enriched by the cultures of people who have arrived here from all over the world.”

Green caucus critic for global affairs, Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) noted that in addition to accepting refugees, Canada needs to stop contributing to activities that cause conflict and displacement.

“The federal government recently lifted Canada’s moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” said Manly. “Iran and Saudi Arabia have been engaged in a proxy war in Yemen for five years. That conflict has created the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Yet Canadian manufacturers are now permitted to sell arms to a country that has allegedly engaged in war crimes and displaced millions of people. Canadians expect a higher standard when it comes to international relations.”

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Rosie Emery

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