The second batch of Syrian refugees traveled from Lebanon to Canada Saturday as the country plans to take in 25,000 by the end of February, a source at Beirut airport told The Daily Star.
The source said that a military craft with 162 Syrians onboard, including families with children, departed from the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut to Montreal, the largest city in Quebec.
The coming days will see the resettlement of more Syrians in Canada, but they will be transferred to civilian airplanes as directed by the Canadian government, the source added.
Canada’s Ambassador to Lebanon Michelle Cameron was present at the farewell. The embassy’s staff speeded up the process at the airport.
The first Canadian government plane carrying Syrian refugees arrived in Toronto late Thursday, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is going ahead with his pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.
The welcome given to the military flight carrying 164 refugees stands in stark contrast to the United States.
Canadians, eager to show their support for the newcomers, were not deterred by the fact that they couldn't meet face to face as the refugees were processed in a secure area. A handful of people gathered at the international arrivals gate at Pearson airport bearing signs and gifts.
About 800 refugees destined for Canada are being screened by security and health officers each day in Lebanon and Jordan.
Canada has long prided itself on opening its doors to asylum-seekers. In times of crisis in decades past, Canada resettled refugees quickly and in large numbers. It airlifted more than 5,000 people from Kosovo in the late 1990s, more than 5,000 from Uganda in 1972 and resettled 60,000 Vietnamese in 1979-80. More than 1.2 million refugees have arrived in Canada since World War II.