Refugee delays in Turkey, but Canadian 'program is not closed': commander

The Canadian Forces' refugee operations in Lebanon are going well, despite delays in Turkey, Canada's commanding officer in Lebanon says.

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In an exclusive interview with CTV's Mercedes Stephenson, Lt.-Col. Patrice Beauchamp said troops on the ground are in high spirits and feel motivated by the refugees they are meeting and helping.

He said Canadians are successfully working with the UN to assist refugees in five locations in Lebanon and one location in Jordan.

But there have been a series of delays in Turkey, where Canada is working with the Turkish government.

Beauchamp said these setbacks have prompted officials to focus their efforts more on Lebanon and Jordan.

"As far as my understanding right now, the program (in Turkey) is not closed," Beauchamp told Stephenson. "But I know that people both from Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence have been detached from the operation in Turkey and relocated in support of Lebanon."

Beauchamp said the government still hopes to bring some refugees to Canada from Turkey, but that he believes the new plan is to end the refugee efforts there in 2016.

"You still have refugees in the process (in Turkey) and my understanding is that they will be sending some refugees, mainly by commercial airlines, in the upcoming weeks before the 31st of December," he said. "But after that I believe that their program is closed."

Canada has committed to bringing in 25,000 refugees by the end of February and could bring up to 50,000 by the end of 2016, Immigration Minister John McCallum has said.

The first government planeload of refugees arrived in Toronto on Dec. 11, carrying refugees who had been living in Lebanon.



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