August 23, 2012
Canada Receives More than 3,000 Child Refugees a Year
Canada is faced with huge challenges with the vast amount of child refugees it welcomes at its borders seeking protection. Many of these child refugees face trafficking, abuse, and exploitation in their homelands they are trying to flee from, ending up at Canada’s borders. Immigration workers estimate the number to sit at 3,000 children a year, with many of the child refugees coming unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
According to a counselor who works with child claimants, many of these children are traumatized from their experiences in their homeland where they may have faced war, famine, and persecution. Some female children have grown to be illiterate, as in the case with Aziza from Chad, because of the limitations placed on women and their right to an education and schooling. Most of these children also face learning difficulties and adjusting to a new life in Canada.
As was the case with a 15 year old girl from Chad, escaping circumcision and a marriage at the age of 11; she was born out of wedlock and given to her aunt to raise her and was sold by her uncle into a marriage. She quickly escaped and seeked refuge in Canada, however filed an unsuccessful refugee claim. Her refugee decision was appealed to the Federal Court that granted another hearing before an Immigration and Refugee Board. Child claimants are given a designated representative to help them during hearings before the IRB to determine if they are legitimate refugees, and in some instances the child is allowed to remain with the parents being sent back home. Oftentimes child refugees arrive with no documentation or identification, leaving it up to child-care workers to determine if they have family in Canada, or to investigate and uncover family members from the child’s homeland. The child workers usually stay in contact with said children until they turn 21, hoping to ensure that the child can continue to grow comfortably within Canadian society.
Canada Border Services Agency hopes to develop up to date country profiles that may provide further information regarding child-refugee producing countries. The Canadian Council for Refugees states that attention should be brought to the treatment of children while they may remain in detention for multiple weeks as their cases are being sorted out, as they are concerned with the well being of the children.
To learn more about claiming refugee status, please click here.