OTTAWA — The Liberal government has announced its long-awaited $100 million contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help fleeing Syrians, fulfilling a campaign promise from the federal election.
The contribution includes $10 million for the UN refugee agency as part of the program to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees in Canada over the next few months.
International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government will move quickly to disburse the funds.
“Our officials are in constant discussions with UNHCR and we will make sure that they will get the money as soon as they need it,” she said.
“It will be a quick release.”
The government also announced it is honouring a commitment made by the previous Conservative government to match donations by Canadians to the international relief efforts. Canadians have until Dec. 31 to make donations, which will be matched to a ceiling of $100 million, officials said.
UN staff in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are currently working overtime and on weekends to help select the 15,000 Syrians who will be brought to Canada by the end of February directly by the government.
The government is also giving the UN in those countries, as well as in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Europe, money to help deal more broadly with the effect of the refugee crisis in those countries.
“We know that Syrian refugees are cutting on meals, taking on debt to meet their basic daily needs and risking their lives to leave Syria,” said Bibeau.
“This funding to UNHCR will help to make these decisions a little less difficult by helping to meet basic needs.”
Thursday’s announcement brings to $969 million the total amount of humanitarian assistance from Canada in response to the Syrian crisis, which has forced four million people to leave the country.