Canada to welcome 1,200 Yezidi refugees from Iraq
Canada will resettle 1,200 Yezidi refugees who faced persecution by the Islamic State group, the immigration minister said Tuesday.
Yezidis are a Kurdish-speaking minority with a pre-Islamic religion thought partly to have its origin in the Zoroastrianism of ancient Persia. They are neither Arab nor Muslim and IS considers them polytheistic heretics.
Some 400 have already been airlifted to this country.
"Our operation is under way and inpidual survivors of Daesh have been arriving in Canada for resettlement in the last number of months and this began on October 25, 2016," Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State.
"Our government will resettle approximately 1,200 highly vulnerable survivors of Daesh and their family members in Canada," he added.
The initiative follows Parliament's resolution last fall to take in Yezidis facing "genocide" in Iraq at the hands of the Islamic extremist IS group.
The original aim was to bring over women and girls at risk, but Hussen told a news conference that Ottawa had learned that "Daesh has also deliberately targeted boys and as such we are helping to resettle all child survivors of Daesh."
Hussen said the migrants are arriving on commercial flights at a "controlled pace" to avoid overwhelming Canada's refugee system.
The operation is expected to cost Can$28 million (US$21 million).
Since coming to power in late 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has resettled 40,000 Syrian refugees.
The Yezidis taken in have been subjected to comprehensive security checks and medical examinations, Hussen said.