BEIRUT - When Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon, help begins with a phone call to the U.N. refugee agency -- if they can get through.

Published in International

TORONTO - Doctors are extending efforts to regain full medical coverage for all refugees even as the federal government backed down on health insurance cuts to one class of refugees.

"Basically it leaves people sicker and dead," Dr. Katherine Rouleau, a family physician at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, told The Catholic Register just three days after cuts to the interim federal health program ceased coverage for medications, many diagnostic tests, prosthetics, vision care and dental care for most refugees. "That is not an option, so the fight will go on pretty fiercely."

Rouleau is one of hundreds of doctors who have protested the cuts under the banner of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Christians aiding refugees is nothing new. Christians taking the Canadian government to court so refugees won’t be denied medication, artificial limbs or rehabilitative therapy is.

Hospitality House Refugee Ministry in Winnipeg has launched a lawsuit on behalf of the Anglican diocese of Rupert’s Land claiming breach of contract against Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Hospitality House is trying to block government plans to strip down its health insurance plan for refugees.

Cuts to the Interim Federal Healthcare Program for refugees take effect June 30.

Published in Canada

Vilmos Csikja, his wife Beata and their four children from Hungary are the kind of people Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calls “bogus refugees.”

They have been in Canada three years. Their application for refugee protection was denied by the Immigration and Refugee Board, an appeal to the federal court was unsuccessful, the IRB’s appeal division turned them down and the Federal Court has now declined to overturn that decision. Their last hope is an appeal to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Only about three per cent of Hungarian Roma refugee applications are successful at the IRB. Roma refugee cases have exploded over the last five years. In 2007 there were just 34. In 2011 there were almost 5,000. The Roma refugee boom coincides with two factors — the 2007 lifting of visa requirements for Hungary and increasing prominence of the extreme right wing Jobbik party in the Hungarian parliament.

Published in Features

BEIRUT - Church aid workers scrambled to find housing for hundreds of Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring Lebanon because of ongoing violence between Syrian forces and armed rebels.

About 200 families -- more than 1,000 people overall -- made their way to the border town of Qaa in the Bekaa Valley in northern Lebanon March 5 and were struggling in the region's near-freezing temperatures.

Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, told Catholic News Service March 6 that "women and children and the elderly are coming out in the cold, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to seek safety."

Published in International

The Iraqi family sponsored by Cardinal Thomas Collins is in the final stretch of its long road to refuge. The Iraqi Christian refugees should be in Canada before the end of April thanks to an offer of sponsorship by Collins.

Members of the archdiocese of Toronto administrative staff have raised the money, drawn up a 15-page settlement plan and gathered together a hope chest to make sure the family will find a warm welcome in Toronto.

The office workers have come together to take full responsibility for the refugees, said Martin Mark, executive director of the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office for Refugees.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA