Canada officially welcomes first 10,000 Syrian refugees

Canada has officially welcomed its first 10,000 Syrian refugees, marking a much-talked-about milestone in the federal government's plan to accept tens of thousands of refugees to the country.

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The pledge was a key plank in the Liberal Party's campaign last fall, but repeated delays have pushed the deadlines back.

Originally, the government pledged to bring 25,000 refugees in by the end of 2015.

That goal was later adjusted to 10,000 refugees by the end of the year. And as that deadline closed in, the government pushed the promise back again, citing problems with poor flying weather as well as other circumstances.

On January 1, The Canadian Press reported that 6,064 refugees had arrived under the Liberal commitment, in addition to 1,263 who'd been settled under the previous Conservative Government.

On Wednesday, the government announced "a significant milestone" had been reached late Tuesday evening.

"Canada has now welcomed more than 10,000 Syrian refugees to our country," a government statement said.

In the press release, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum commended the many Canadians who have helped bring over the refugees.

"Many people have worked day and night to bring these refugees to Canada – and Canadians have opened their communities and their hearts to welcome them," McCallum said. "Canada continues to set an international example with its response to the worst refugee crisis of our time."

Since coming to power, the Liberal government has worked closely with the United Nations to help resettle refugees living in settlements in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Private sponsors, religious organizations, cultural groups and other ordinary Canadians have also pitched in to welcome the refugees, supply housing and donate warm clothing and toys.

The government now has a month and a half to reach its next target: bringing in a total of 25,000 refugees by the end of February.

With files from the Canadian Press



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