Armenian community overwhelmed as second wave of refugees hits GTA

Members of Toronto’s Armenian community, one of the largest sponsor groups in Canada, say they are overwhelmed as hundreds of Syrian refugees arrive in the GTA.

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The community has become one of the most important private sponsors in Canada’s response to the refugee crisis, with 1,100 Syrians expected to resettle in Toronto in the coming weeks, thanks to Armenian sponsorship.

The second wave of refugees hit the GTA on Tuesday afternoon, as a plane carrying 214 people landed at Toronto’s Pearson airport. Most of the refugees on board the flight are privately sponsored by members of the Armenian community, which is scrambling to help them.

“We’re very much overwhelmed,” said Apkar Mirakian, who is charged with helping resettle many of the refugees. “We never expected that we would get this many in this short of a time.”

Mirakian says this means there is not enough housing for all the refugee families.

“We can’t handle it because we don’t have resources, money-wise,” he said. “The rest is OK.”

The community has said that part of the problem is a lack of information from the federal government.

“The refugee board haven’t told us anything about the numbers and where they are going to go,” Mirakian told CTV Toronto last week. “The lack of information frustrates us.”

The provincial government has pledged $10 million, but the Armenian community says it has not seen any of that money.

And Mirakian says there is no time to apply for resettlement funds because of the number of refugees coming in.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Austin Delaney


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