Canada announced it will double the number of Syrian refugees it admits in 2016.
The country had initially pledged to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of February, but John McCallum, the minister of immigration and citizenship, said that number would be upped to 50,000 by the end of 2016, the BBC reports.
McCallum made the announcement from Jordan, where he was meeting some Syrian refugees heading to Canada.
According to BBC, 1,409 refugees have arrived in Canada since November 4. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted the first Canadian government plan of Syrian refugees in Toronto in early December.
“They step off the plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada with social insurance numbers, with health cards and with an opportunity to become full Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”
“You are home. Welcome home,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told some of the 163 Syrian refugees who arrived at Toronto’s Pearson airport that night.
The families were part of the first dedicated Canadian government flight to relocate Syrian refugees from the Middle East. Dozens of Canadian volunteers were waiting for their arrivals, offering a warm welcome to make their transition to a new home halfway around the world a little easier.
According to Mashable, the first family to enter the reception center was Kevork Jamkossian, a gynecologist from Aleppo, his wife Georgina Zires, a lab technician, and their 16-month-old daughter Madeleine.
“We really would like to thank you for all this hospitality and the warm welcome,” Jamkossian told Trudeau through an interpreter. “We felt ourselves at home.”
“We suffered a lot. Now, we feel as if we got out of hell and we came to paradise,” Jamkossian said.
Charity groups have been working with the government to bring Syrian refugees to the country for months.