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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau co-chairs a round table at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau co-chairs a round table at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau pledges $64.5-million in humanitarian aid at UN conference Add to ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showcased Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis at the United Nations Monday and urged other countries to help solve the unprecedented global migrant crisis – a theme he is expected to take up again in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly Tuesday.

Mr. Trudeau took the lead on his call for global action by announcing $64.5-million in new funding to help meet immediate, life-saving needs of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world. The money will be funnelled to international organizations, including UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, over three years.

The Liberal government will also increase humanitarian assistance spending by 10 per cent this fiscal year to $752-million from $684-million last year.

“We have a responsibility – as all countries do – to do more to help solve the global refugee and migration crisis,” Mr. Trudeau said during a round-table discussion on refugees with Queen Rania of Jordan.

Canadian non-governmental organizations welcomed the new humanitarian-assistance funding Monday, but warned that money alone will not solve the global migrant crisis. “As Canada considers itself as a champion of responsibility sharing, we would have liked to have seen an increase in [refugee] resettlement numbers,” said Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada policy adviser.

Canada has resettled more than 31,000 Syrian refugees since last November, a feat Mr. Trudeau highlighted Monday.

“That’s a pretty big accomplishment, and it’s one that could not have happened without the help and support of Canadians in communities all across the country,” he said.

The government expects to welcome more than 44,000 Syrians by the end of the year, including 17,800 privately sponsored refugees.

Immigration Minister John McCallum, who joined Mr. Trudeau in New York this week, said many countries wanted to learn more about Canada’s unique private-sponsorship system. The program allows groups of individuals to sponsor refugees by committing to financially support them during their first year in Canada.

“I know the U.K. is interested,” Mr. McCallum told reporters Monday. “We have had interest expressed from several countries.”

World leaders also signed a declaration Monday calling on countries that can resettle or reunite many more refugees to do so. More than 60 million people are displaced globally, according to the UN Refugee Agency. CARE Canada said the Trudeau government needs to ensure it will follow through with its commitment to the New York Declaration, which is not legally binding.

“One of the shortcomings in the New York Declaration is the lack of an accountability mechanism. So, will Canada hold itself accountable to these new pledges?” said Shaughn McArthur, advocacy and government relations adviser for CARE Canada.

Mr. Trudeau will address the UN Security Council Tuesday. His speech comes as Canada begins its campaign for the rotating 2021-22 Security Council seat, for which is faces stiff competition from Norway and Ireland.

The Security Council consists of five permanent member states – China, France, Russia, Britain and the U.S. – and 10 non-permanent seats. Unlike permanent member states, temporary members do not have veto power. Mr. McCallum said that despite this rule, Canada can still play an important role on the Security Council.

“We have a bigger say when we are part of the debate at the Security Council than if we’re not members,” Mr. McCallum said. “We don’t want a seat just to have a seat. We want a seat so that we can better push the directions and the policies which we think are best for the world.”

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