Canada accepts the most Sri Lankan refugees
By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau
Last Updated: September 4, 2010 5:13pm
OTTAWA Most of the 492 of the passengers and crew aboard the MV Sun Sea have a good shot at being granted refugee status in Canada, according to a review of Canadian acceptance rates for refugee applicants from Sri Lanka and other countries.
Canada is more likely than any other country to grant refugee status to Sri Lankan nationals, and it accepts more refugees from Sri Lanka than from anywhere else.
In the first six months of 2010, the acceptance rate for Sri Lankan
nationals, many of whom are ethnic Tamils, was 85%. In 2009, the acceptance rate was 90.7%. In 2008, it was 93%.
According to statistics from The IGC an informal body based Geneva,
Switzerland that gathers data on immigration and refugee matters Canada's acceptance of Sri Lankan refugees is almost 14% higher than the second most accepting country, Australia.
While Canada accepted 90.7% of all refugee applicants from Sri Lanka in 2009, Australia accepted 76.9%.
Other countries with a significant number of applications had much lower acceptance rates.
Britain received an almost identical number of Sri Lankan refugee applications as Canada 1,099 compared to Canada's 1,082 yet rejected 86.4% of them.
Out of the 2,636 refugee applications made by Sri Lanka nationals in France, 75.9% were rejected.
After accounting for applications withdrawn or granted a different status,
Canadas rejection rate for Sri Lankan nationals is just 5.5%.
Information provided by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) shows Sri Lankan nationals are accepted into Canada at a much higher rate than refugee applicants from other countries.
Mexico was Canadas top source of refugee applications in 2009, with 9,314 claims made, and a mere 8% accepted.
The acceptance rate of applications from China was 58%, and the rate for Nigeria was 66%.
Canadas total acceptance rate for all countries in 2009 was 42%.
Questions put to Immigration Minister Jason Kenneys office were referred to the IRB.
They make refugee decisions independently, at arm's length from the minister and the government, said Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Kenney.
IRB spokeswoman Melissa Anderson told QMI Agency it's hard to draw conclusions from international numbers or compare them to Canada's, because the criteria for accepting refugees may be different.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told QMI Agency the overall acceptance rates of other countries may be higher than officially stated, because failed refugee claimants are not necessarily kicked-out and are often accepted as a different class of migrant.
Canada also has well-documented trouble removing failed applicants. Auditor General Sheila Fraser reported in 2008 that 42,000 people ordered out of Canada could not be found by federal officials.
The issue of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka became an issue three weeks ago when the MV Sun Sea arrived on B.C.'s coast.
Reports continue to surface that between one and five other refugee ships are preparing to make their way to Canada.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said his department, is leading an integrated Canadian effort abroad, working in close concert with Canadian departments and agencies and other states to combat migrant smuggling.
Our Government will not sit back while Canada becomes a target for criminal operations that are trying to take advantage of Canada's generosity, said Cannon.
A report in the Globe and Mail last week revealed Tamils looking for passage to countries like Canada are being warehoused in apartments around Bangkok.
One man, who fled the civil war in Sri Lanka before it ended, complained that human smugglers were charging tens of thousands of dollars for trips to Canada, a price he said was unaffordable to an ordinary refugee.