Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 15, 2018. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Justin Trudeau was among those who personnally asked that Israel evacuate hundreds of so-called White Helmets from Syria amid fears they would be attacked by government troops. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronen Zvulun, Pool)

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Canada has offered to take in dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria following a dramatic rescue over the weekend that was orchestrated by the Israeli military and personally encouraged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Named for their easily recognizable headware, the all-volunteer White Helmets have been lauded and supported by Canada and other Western nations for their role as first responders and humanitarian workers during Syria’s bloody and brutal civil war.

Canada provided the civil organization with $7.5 million over the past two years to help with recruitment and training, with a specific emphasis on women.

But with the Syrian government having regained control of much of the country and moving to wrest back the last of several rebel-held areas in recent weeks, there had been concerns that dozens of White Helmets stranded on the border with Jordan would become targets for Syrian troops.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Sunday that Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump were among those who asked Israel to rescue the White Helmets, after leaders first talked about how to help the volunteers during the recent NATO summit in Brussels.

READ MORE: Trump returns from summit with Putin to forceful criticism

The ensuing operation saw the Israeli military evacuate hundreds of people to neighbouring Jordan, though the exact numbers were still being determined; Jordanian officials initially said that 800 Syrians were rescued, though that number was later revised down to around 425.

Writing on Twitter in Arabic, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the Syrians were allowed into the country following written commitments that Germany, Britain and Canada would resettle them following the operation.

Canada has offered to host up to 50 White Helmets and their families, a senior official confirmed to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity. With the addition of family members, that could bring the total to around 250 Syrians, though the official said the actual number could be lower.

Exactly when the White Helmets would arrive is unclear; the rescued Syrians are expected to remain in a UN refugee camp for at least three months to allow for processing.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Surrey Community Leader Awards winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Heights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

Surrey building that has gathered dust for 20 years is for sale again, with bids sought

Potential sale of the long-vacant 104 Avenue Centre is good news, Surrey Board of Trade CEO says

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read