HOSPITALITY HOUSE Refugee Ministry Inc
1039 Main St. Winnipeg, MB
January 14, 2016
Ten orphaned refugee children and a baby arriving unaccompanied in Winnipeg today
A singular event will happen late this afternoon when a family of eleven underage children, refugees from Somalia and now escaping from Saudi Arabia, will arrive at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport. They have been sponsored to Canada by Hospitality House Refugee Ministry and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
The children, brothers and sisters, range in age from 16 down to 8 (four boys and six girls), plus one baby, a daughter of the oldest sibling.
Born in Saudi Arabia when their late father was employed at the Somali consulate in Jeddah, the children were stripped of their legal status (rendering them illegal in the country), and their documents confiscated, when their father died. He had been predeceased by his wife. Both died of natural causes, leaving their children orphaned.
Their survival in Saudi Arabia has been a harrowing story as they have been under the constant threat of deportation. Police have twice broken into their dwelling, planning to return to scoop them up and deport them to southern Somalia where they do not speak the language, where there is civil anarchy, and where their survival, both individually and as a family, was unlikely.
The children have been forced to hide in one place or another for the months preceding their departure for Canada today. Canada’s government processing of this private sponsorship has been handled with amazing rapidity and the entire process accomplished since spring.
The plight of the children came to the attention of Hospitality House after their older brother, then sixteen, arrived in Winnipeg, walking all the way from the Emerson border crossing after an epic journey from Saudi Arabia, in October, 2014. He made a successful asylum claim here but carried the burden of the need to rescue his family left behind. He is a ward of Child & Family Services and hence cannot be identified.
Unfortunately, one family member, a cousin and orphan, a girl of sixteen raised with the family for her entire life due to the death in childbirth of her own mother, is unable to travel with the family for Saudi documentary reasons that Canadian officials continue to address and expect to resolve soon.
This arrival of eleven unaccompanied minors, refugee children, may be unprecedented in the annals of Canadian immigration. They will live at the Hospitality House reception centre that is provided through the generosity of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral. Hospitality House also receives support from parishes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg, and other donors.
Hospitality House will be looking to the Winnipeg community for the financial support of this young family. Offers of support have already come from the Somali community.
For further information:
Tom Denton, Executive Director, Sponsorship 204-589-2092 / 204-782-9562
Karin Gordon, Executive Director, Settlement 204-589-2092 / 204-803-5559