Month: April 2015

Job Opening Jesuit Refugee Service National Director

Jesuit Refugee Service is looking for a National Director. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and displaced people. One of the responsibilities is to coordinate, facilitate and implement support activities for refugees and migrants. She or he also represents JRS and related Jesuit initiatives to the Canadian Bishops and and national organizations for the defense of refugees, notably the Canadian Council for Refugees. Place of work: Montreal Office (Bellarmin House, 25, rue Jarry Ouest, Montreal). He or she will have to travel regularly to other Canadian cities, especially Toronto. Starting date: August 2015.

You can read the full job posting by clicking here.

Legal Aid vows to ‘weed out’ bad refugee lawyers

Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star immigration reporter, published this article on Monday April 20, 2015.  He notes that after two years of consultations, the body that administers the province’s legal aid program will start screening lawyers representing refugee claimants based on their experience, expertise and records if they want to be paid to do asylum cases. In 2014, Canada received 13,133 asylum claims, two-thirds of them in Central Region that covers Greater Toronto. The issue arises from ongoing concerns over poor representation of the most vulnerable by some lawyers in jeopardizing legitimate refugees’ claims for protection. Legal Aid Ontario has set a July 17 deadline for lawyers to submit to the screening process, where they must fill out an application to detail their experience in representing refugees at the Immigration and Refugee Board and Federal Court of Canada. Any lawyer who does not apply before then or fails to meet the standards will be removed from legal aid’s roster. However, there are those who express reservations as to whether refugee lawyers, despite their diligence and good intent, are able to do everything expected of them with the limited number of hours Legal Aid Ontario pays for.

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Supreme Court ruling could alter landscape for refugee advocates

The Toronto Star published an article on March 14, 2015 by Debra Black in which she outlines the Supreme Court ruling on advocating for refugees. Advocates have said that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is written far too broadly and puts people who legitimately help refugees at risk of prosecution. Section 117 makes it illegal to “organize, induce, aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, their coming into Canada is or would be in contravention of this Act.”

Francisco Rico, co-director of the FJC Refugee Centre in Toronto says “We do it being aware of the daily risk,”

Still, many challenging the law worry in a political climate increasingly hostile to refugees, it could criminalize the work of all advocates and humanitarians, says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees. Lawyer Lorne Waldman, who represented one of the appellants in a Supreme Court case, said if the law stands, it “will be a strong disincentive against people helping refugees to try to come to Canada.”

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

New report on Development and Peace’s solidarity with the people of Syria

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has released their report on the crisis in Syria and surrounding areas covering the years 2011-2015. They outline the depth of the problems in the region and what CCODP and their partners have been doing to help the people affected by the crisis. The report indicates that the crisis began during the time of the Arab Spring of 2011, whose goal it was to spread democracy across the region. The result was civil war in Syria. Today many groups are fighting with each other and another group (ISIS) has arrived and is intent on taking control, of the entire region by force.

Infrastructure has been destroyed, many Syrians are fleeing their own country, host countries are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of refugees, the past two winters have been devastating. The statistics provided are shocking. For example in March 2012 there were 7,500 deaths in Syria but in March of 2015 there were 220,000. In March of 2012 there were 40,000 refugees compared to 3.75 million in March of 2015.

Development and Peace felt compelled to launch an appeal in collaboration with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise funds to support Syrians trapped in the calamity of war. In addition to contributions of $2.8 million from parishes, dioceses, schools, religious communities and Canadians at-large, Development and Peace has also received $11.3 million in funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and $932,000 from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).

Development and Peace’s principal partner in Syria, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), manages to reach thousands of people despite these circumstances, and even as their own staff are directly affected by the war. JRS is providing help with lodging, educational activities for children, medication for chronic diseases, hospital access, care kits for infants, and household kits containing clothes, bed linens, kitchen supplies, and hygiene kits.

You can read the entire report by clicking here.

The website for the CCODP can be found here.