It has been almost two months since the Government of Canada announced its plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees. The Canadian Armed Forces have played a key role in supporting the government through the deployment of more than 225 personnel to the region as part of Operation Provision.
The CAF personnel are deployed to Aerial Ports of Embarkation in Lebanon Turkey and Jordan. The deployed personnel are responsible for assisting the Canadian Defence Attaches, acting as Liaison Officers between the CDA and Canadian Joint Operations Command and providing a CAF command and control element.
The government of Canada and the CAF are working in conjunction with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Red Cross and Canadian companies, charities and service providers.
Another vital area that the CAF is assisting with is medical background checks in conjunction with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
The CAF medical camps see hundreds of people daily. The refugees are processed through lab technicians gathering biometric data, nurses gathering medical history and finally, the exam ends with a standard physical.
According to Capt. Sarah Goul, second in command of the CAF medical screening team in Amman, Jordan, many of the families are large families with several children.
“It’s really heartwarming to be here and to see how we are involved in trying to get them to Canada to find a better situation,”said Goul.
Goul and her team have been showered with gratitude and appreciation from the Syrians they interact with.
“People keep offering me food. They keep showing with food. The kids want to play with us they keep asking us questions. Everyone is really appreciative. I saw one of the families come out after being in one of the medical officers offices he just shook his hand he was really sincere and thanked him. It was all happening in Arabic and I even though I couldn’t understand the language I could see the warmth and connection. So they’re really grateful.” said Goul.
Goul says that many of the refugees they see have gone through difficult situations and it isn’t always easy to hear the stories.
“It just makes it really hit home why we are here and why we are doing this. Itâ€™s a really rewarding mission to be on because we get to see these people directly and just know the direct results of our actions. So I feel really lucky to be here,.” stated Goul.
According to the UNCHR, since the start of 2015 more than 720,000 refugees and migrants have made the journey across the Mediterranean escaping hunger and war from not only Syria but Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and other regions.
On the home front, Op Provision entails preparing several bases across Ontario and Quebec to house refugees, if the need should arise.