Canada Welcomes Ukrainians: Sarosh Rizvi Highlights the Ongoing Efforts

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians expected to come to Canada in the next few months| The Canadian Press  | Posted January 18, 2024

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As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, Canada stands as a beacon of hope for tens of thousands of Ukrainians seeking safety and a fresh start. Since March 2022, Canada has issued an astonishing 936,293 temporary emergency visas to Ukrainian nationals escaping the horrors of war. These visas have provided an opportunity for Ukrainians to work or study in Canada while waiting for the war to end. As of November 28, 210,178 brave individuals had made the journey to Canada, with up to 90,000 more expected before the emergency visa deadline at the end of March.

Sarosh Rizvi, the Executive Director of Operation Ukraine Safe Haven, emphasizes that this anticipated influx of Ukrainian newcomers represents a considerable increase compared to previous months. Canada’s response to the crisis in Ukraine has been characterized by an extraordinary commitment to helping those in need. When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, millions were displaced, and Canada responded by opening its doors to an unlimited number of Ukrainian families through a new emergency visa program.

However, unlike traditional refugee programs, these newcomers had fewer built-in supports. Instead, the Canadian community’s resilience and generosity played a pivotal role. People donated clothes and furniture, businesses offered employment opportunities, and individuals opened their homes to the arriving refugees. This collective effort was instrumental in easing the initial transition for Ukrainian newcomers.

Fast forward to the approaching second anniversary of the invasion, and Sarosh Rizvi notes that the groundswell of public support has diminished. The response has evolved into a more institutionalized approach, with the settlement sector becoming better prepared to meet the challenges. Nevertheless, the expected influx of displaced Ukrainians will undoubtedly test the capacity of various resources, from settlement staff to hotel accommodations and even food banks.

One of the primary challenges faced in this ongoing effort is finding suitable housing for the incoming Ukrainians. Rizvi acknowledges that there is no perfect solution at the moment, and the housing issue continues to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. To tackle this problem, Operation Ukraine Safe Haven encourages those who choose to arrive before the visa deadline to consider settling in smaller communities where housing is more readily available and affordable.

The situation in Ukraine remains a stark reminder of the importance of international solidarity and compassion in times of crisis. As Canada continues to open its doors and hearts to Ukrainians, Sarosh Rizvi and organizations like Operation Ukraine Safe Haven play a crucial role in ensuring that these newcomers find the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives in a new land. The road ahead may be challenging, but Canada’s commitment to providing a safe haven for those fleeing conflict remains unwavering.