TORONTO, ON, NOV 24, 2013 -This is the time of the year where all Eritrean refugees all over the world are calling for their voices to be heard, their faces to be recognized, their human right is to be addressed and most of their questions answered.
We at the Plight of Eritrean Refugees Committee are here to try and answer some of these callings by commemorating the month of November to be Eritrean refugees’ month and in particular November 15 to be Eritrean refugees’ day. We recognize all Eritrean refugees by organizing a day event such as today in an attempt to draw attention to thousands of displaced Eritrean refugees facing critical condition all over the world.
For the last five years, The P.E.R Committee has experienced the challenges of meeting the numerous demands of the Eritrean refugees. We tried to address some of the essential needs in the past, we had held a full day Conference within the community by inviting key speakers from Immigration Canada, settlement agencies, immigration lawyers and the archdiocese to exchange information and get some answer to the needs of all Eritrean refugees. We have also held a fundraising event to try to help Eritrean refugees get sponsorship, we participated in several conferences and meetings related to immigration and refugees matters, we have communicated with different organizations, written letters and signed petitions. P.E.R. Committee has also become a member of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) which is a national umbrella organization. We continue to participate in CCR conferences, working group meetings to advocate the Eritrean Refugees needs in a national setting.
In the last 12 months P.E.R. has participated or acted in:
• The second national conference of Catholic refugees’ offices in Canada.
• We continued to work together with ORAT, CCR and other sponsorship agreement holders’ agencies.
• We have participated in the spring consultation of CCR in Vancouver, British Colombia
• We have meet with Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials in Ottawa who are in a position of decision-making in refugees’ matters including Mrs. Debra Presse (Director of refugees’ resettlement Refugees affair branch) as well as Mr. Wally Boxhill (Director of strategic management and coordination Management program branch) where we addressed and discussed Eritrean Refugees matters.
• We have finalized a sponsorship agreement for Dawit Yohannes and his family to settle in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
• We have participated in coordinating the Blended VOR Sponsorship Initiative Program with CIC to sponsor 75 Eritrean refugees from Sudan to settle in Canada. The majority of those refugees were sponsored by Eritrean Canadian Islamic Association. Other groups also contributed to this program including our own Chaplain with one sponsorship and our committee member Bahlibi Tekle sponsored one refugee, that individual is here in Canada today who is the first to arrive under this program.
• We have brought our grief and written letters on recent tragedy in Lampedusa and other Eritrean refugees’ matters to the attention of Cardinal Collins in the Catholic Church, to Member of Parliament in our riding, to the chair of CIC and to Foreign Affairs Parliamentary committee.
• We have organized a memorial services and candle light vigil for the victims of Lampedusa both in Geez Rite and English.
• And at last we have organized this annual P.E.R. Event.
The P.E.R Committee will continue its work in partnership with other similar group and agencies to advocate the needs and human right of all Eritrean refugees that are displaced throughout the world.
We will be participating in the fall consultation of CCR in Kitchener, Ontario from November 27 to 30 where we will make the P.E.R. case to the organization in person.
The P.E.R. committee needs to be more visible in all area to be heard and present the situation of Eritrean refugees to people and departments that are in positions of decision making.