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Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan near the border with Syria provides shelter to around 100,000 Syrian refugees.

KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

When will they get here?

The government says 10,000 privately sponsored refugees and 15,000 government-sponsored refugees will arrive before the end of February next year, with 40 per cent of those people landing by Dec. 31 – most of them privately sponsored.

An additional 10,000 government-sponsored refugees and an unknown number of privately sponsored refugees will be brought to Canada before the end of 2016. So, the number of arrivals is expected to pick up greatly within the next couple of weeks. But the government is not saying exactly when the first planes will start to land.

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Who is vetting them?

The government says it is sending 500 Canadian officials to the Middle East to expedite the processing – half of them military and half from other departments. But it is unknown exactly how many of those people are actually on the ground.

Just 12 of the roughly 250 promised military personnel have been deployed. But the government will not provide information about the remainder, citing security concerns.

Where will they settle?

Refugee organizations say this is the biggest question unanswered.

Planes carrying the refugees will be landing in Toronto and Montreal and, from those two entry points, the Syrians will be dispersed across Canada.

In 36 cities, the government has agreements with organizations that are able to provide specialized services for refugees. They include St. John's, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Victoriaville, Que., Drummondville, Que., Sherbrooke, Montreal, Gatineau, Laval, Que., Saint-Jérôme, Que., Joliette, Que., Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., Brossard, Que., Granby, Que., Windsor, Ont., Ottawa, London, Ont., Toronto, Kitchener, Ont., Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Sask., Moose Jaw, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, Alta., Lethbridge, Alta., and British Columbia's Lower Mainland.

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The government says it expects the refugees to be sent to those places and other communities that are able to accommodate the new arrivals.

But groups representing refugees warn that, no matter where they are sent initially, the Syrians are likely to migrate to the cities where there are large numbers of people of their own descent – where they have support and community.

Quebec alone is preparing to welcome 3,650 Syrians by year's end and an equal number next year. With such a large Syrian base, refugees sent elsewhere might be compelled to relocate to that province.

How Canada compares with other countries

Global refugee resettlement is directed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2013, the agency asked for 130,000 spaces to be made available by 2016, whether through direct refugee-resettlement programs or humanitarian admission. Not all countries accept UN refugees for resettlement. And, in addition to what the UNHCR is asking, many European and Middle Eastern countries are also dealing with the impromptu flow of Syrians across their borders as they attempt to find new homes on their own.

  • United States: The UN has so far submitted 22,427 Syrian refugees to the United States for resettlement consideration. The United States has recently pledged to resettle 10,000 in the next year.
  • Britain: 216 Syrian refugees have been accepted under a relocation program. In September, the government pledged to expand that program by accepting up to 20,000 Syrians until 2020.
  • Germany: 20,000 humanitarian admission, 18,500 individual sponsorship.
  • France: Since 2012, France has provided 1,880 asylum visas for Syrians, which enable them to travel to France for the purpose of applying for asylum. Last week, they announced they will take 30,000.

With reports from Jane Taber, Gloria Galloway, Ingrid Peritz, Campbell Clark, Joe Friesen, Ian Bailey, The Canadian Press and Reuters

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