2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 33

Thursday, February 6, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Foreign Affairs

Peace Talks—Protection of Syrian Children

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: One of my proudest moments during my visit to a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan was when the mothers told me that they wanted to thank Canadians for helping their children get an education. When Canadians help those children get an education, they give them a reason to live. I hope that we will see the same results in Syria. I am very concerned about the impact the Syrian conflict has had on children.

I would like to compliment the government for providing $203 million to ease the humanitarian crisis for Syrians, and particularly the $116 million being used to support Syria’s neighbours, which are dealing with an unprecedented number of refugees.

My question is for the Leader of the Government. Much of the funding that Canada is providing has been earmarked for one to five years. How are we going to continue to support the psychological and physical well-being of Syrian refugee children in the long term?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you, Senator Jaffer, for your question. We are very concerned about this issue.

As you have likely seen, new measures have been taken. We have said from the outset that a peaceful solution is the only way to stop the bloodbath in Syria. Canada will continue to take measures to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The main objective is to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the civil war in Syria. As you may have noticed, on January 24, our Prime Minister announced $150 million in additional humanitarian aid to address the fast-growing needs in Syria and neighbouring countries.

We support UNICEF’s “No Lost Generation” initiative to provide education and protection to children affected by the conflict. Launched by UNICEF and its partners, this initiative seeks to protect the future of the children affected by the Syrian crisis. With Canada’s support, our partners are responding to humanitarian needs. For instance, they are providing drinking water to 10 million people, food aid to 3.8 million Syrians in the country and emergency assistance to almost 3 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

So far, Canada has invested over $630 million in humanitarian aid, development assistance and security in response to the Syrian crisis.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Syria. We will continue to condemn the violence that is tearing Syria apart, and we will continue to support the Syrian people in their fight for a better and brighter future.

Senator Jaffer: I greatly appreciate your answer. I realize that you might not have the answer right away, but I would still like to receive these figures as soon as possible. How much money has Canada invested and will it invest multilaterally and bilaterally, specifically for the well-being of children?

[English]

One thing that the Human Rights Committee works on is making sure that women are involved according to Resolution 1325 at peacekeeping tables. This is an international topic that Canada has led for many years. I respect that you may not know the answer now, but may I ask that you find out as soon as possible what efforts are being made by Canada to make sure that women are at the peacekeeping table?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: As I said, the funding for humanitarian aid is significant and it goes to various programs, including the UNICEF program that provides education to children whose lives have been disrupted by the Syrian crisis. It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to come up with the exact number of children and women who are receiving direct or indirect assistance from Canada through those initiatives.

As I explained earlier, together with our humanitarian aid partners, we are providing drinking water for 10 million people and food aid for 3.8 million Syrians in the country.

You will understand that it is difficult to obtain precise statistics about how many women and children are being directly or indirectly helped by Canada.

However, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of our government, that we are closely monitoring the situation, we condemn the violence and we want to ensure that we support the Syrian people in their fight for a better future. Therefore, we will continue to be there.

(1500)

Senator Jaffer: I appreciate your challenge, but maybe I wasn’t clear.

[English]

Leader, maybe I wasn’t clear. I absolutely cannot ask you to say how many children are being served, but if I may please ask you to let us know exactly how much we are giving multilaterally and bilaterally and what efforts are being made to ensure that women are at the peace table.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator Jaffer, I can confirm to you the information I have here. I can promise to verify whether there is any additional information and get back to you later to fully answer your question. One thing is certain: as I already said we are monitoring the situation closely. We stand with the Syrian people, and we want to assure them of our support.

 

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