Speed up process for resettling refugee children, urge paediatricians
Sep 11 2015
OTTAWA -- Canada must do more to help resettle children and families caught up in the migrant crisis, says the Canadian Paediatric Society.
“Under the best of circumstances, leaving home for a new country is difficult for children,” said Dr. Robin Williams, President of the CPS. “Now we have daily images of children in danger, without adequate food and shelter, and with an uncertain future. Some have even been separated from their families along the way. Like other privileged countries, Canada must work quickly to minimize the trauma and risk to these children.”
Canada has a responsibility to children worldwide, added Dr. Williams. “We must not turn away from the Syrian refugees, particularly children and women, who are the most vulnerable in this crisis.”
In particular, the Canadian government can take concrete and immediate steps to make it easier for Syrian and other refugees to resettle by:
- Removing obstacles and delays to private sponsorships, which can take 18 months. Currently, Canada requires that migrants be certified as refugees by the UNHCR, even though the federal government has its own assessment process;
- Dispatching Canadian government personnel overseas to expedite health and security screening of refugees;
- Opening up options for family reunification;
- Ensuring access to housing and adequate health care upon arrival in Canada.
The longer refugee children remain unsettled, the greater the potential consequences to both their physical health and their emotional and psychological well-being. Disruptions in health care and education, for example, can have lasting effects.
The Canadian Paediatric Society, a national professional association representing more than 3000 child and youth health specialists, has been a vocal advocate for immigrant and refugee health. Since 2012, the CPS has called upon the federal government to reinstate health benefits to refugees and claimants, and has a worked to improve care for newcomers.
About the Canadian Paediatric Society
The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.