Sooke sponsored Iraqi refugee family stuck in Lebanon

A year later there is still no sign of when they might arrive

The Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca Refugee Sponsorship Committee is frustrated with the delay in getting an Iraqi refugee family it sponsors to Sooke.

The family has been approved to come to Canada and was set to arrive in December 2016. Now, 12 months after the application was sent, the family is still in Lebanon.

Sponsoring groups across Canada are facing similar issues with delays far longer than anticipated.

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison said the delays are not uncommon for refugee families coming to Canada, but chose not to comment any further on the topic.

“This situation is typical,” said Sid Jorna, chair of the Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca Refugee Sponsorship Committee. “But we remain optimistic. We are not unique in this frustration. I just wish the whole thing could happen a little more quickly.”

Due to the situation in Lebanon, the family can’t legally work, and could be arrested at any time by officials there.

“For us this situation is an annoyance, but for the family it’s a real worry. Their whole life is on hold over there,” said Jorna.

The committee has been in contact with the family on a weekly basis and has begun giving English lessons over the phone, as well as teaching them about the Sooke area.

“I’m very frustrated because we are ready to go, we’ve crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s,” said Jorna.

“The community has put out a lot of love and concern into getting them here, and now all there’s left to do is wait.”