Ottawa (March 17, 2022): The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes the latest arrival of Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugee families to Canada, but continues to fear for those left behind in Afghanistan and India.
Approximately 98 refugees are expected to arrive this month in Kelowna, Vancouver and Calgary.
The arriving families had fled Afghanistan to India in 2015 and were sponsored through private applications that were spearheaded by the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation with support from the World Sikh Organization of Canada, community groups and individuals carrying on the tireless work of Manmeet Singh Bhullar. The WSO has assisted with arranging sponsors as well as in the settlement of the refugees in Canada.
Manmeet Singh Bhullar who championed this cause prior to his tragic passing in November 2015, arranged for the evacuation of Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan’s Helmand province in early 2015 after they became the target of intolerance and attacks.
The arrival of these refugees follows a seven-year long process for the approval of their refugee applications by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Sikhs and Hindu refugees who left Afghanistan after 2015, particularly those who fled after the suicide attack on Kabul’s Karte Parwan gurdwara in March 2020 and those that fled after the Taliban seizure of Kabul in 2021, continue to wait for Canada to create a pathway for their sponsorship.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said today,
“We welcome the arrival of the latest group of Afghan Sikh and Hindu families to Canada. It has been a long process of over seven years for them to arrive here. These arrivals are a tribute to the memory and vision of Manmeet Singh Bhullar who saw a community in desperate need and found a way to help them, despite the odds. The WSO is proud to have been a part of the team that has been working on this project with Manmeet and his family since 2015.
We are, however, very fearful for the approximately 200 Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan and the approximately 500 that fled to India after the March 2020 suicide attack on Kabul’s Karte Parwan gurdwara. There is still no pathway for them to come to Canada, despite repeated calls to the Government of Canada by our organization and Canadian Sikhs more broadly.
We have seen Canada create an expedited pathway for Ukrainian refugees to come to Canada over the past several weeks. This is a welcome step that must also be expanded to include other vulnerable refugee groups, including Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.
We cannot wait another seven years for them to be cleared to come to Canada. Doing so would be unnecessary and deeply unfair to these vulnerable refugees who have already waited too long in horrific conditions.”