Canada launches pilot program to accept North Korean refugees – .

Canada launches pilot program to accept North Korean refugees – .

OTTAWA – Canadians will be able to sponsor people fleeing North Korea under a new program to help refugees fleeing the authoritarian Kim Jong Un regime, according to a Toronto-based human rights organization.

HanVoice says a pilot program launched next February will allow Canadian citizens to sponsor women and children who have fled to a neighboring country, like Thailand.

The United States, South Korea and Canada are currently accepting North Korean refugees. North Koreans heading to China are returned if caught, while those heading to Thailand have no official status.

HanVoice says the pilot program will begin by sponsoring five North Korean families who have already fled to Thailand.

The program will focus on bringing women and children fleeing North Korea to Canada.

The human rights group said Canada’s Immigration Department will review and process the applications. The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canada is the only country to resettle North Korean refugees using a private sponsorship model, HanVoice Executive Director Sean Chung said.

“North Koreans who have managed to flee their country have very few options to settle safely without risk of detention or repatriation,” Chung said. “Canada is now a safe route. We hope that this can be the spark that will open new doors in the world for North Korean refugees. “

HanVoice is working closely with the Immigration Department on the pilot program, Chung added. “The Canadian government will be responsible for liaising with Thai authorities, processing requests and ensuring compliance. “

Under this program, private sponsors must support North Korean families for one year after their arrival, or until the family becomes self-sufficient, for up to three years.

Community groups, as well as individual Canadians, will be able to sponsor North Koreans, with support from HanVoice.

Sponsors will need to help provide financial and social support to North Korean newcomers, from their welcome at the airport to payment for food, rent, gas and electricity, as well as clothing and furniture.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 26, 2021.


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