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441-01113 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English


We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas at one time, Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but today less than five thousand remain;

Whereas a recent bombing in early July killed leaders from both communities in Afghanistan, and demonstrates their ongoing vulnerabilities, especially since these leaders were on their way to meet the president;

Whereas the Minister of Immigration is already empowered by legislation to allow vulnerable minorities to come to Canada as privately sponsored refugees, directly from the country where they face persecution; and

Whereas the Sikh and Hindu communities are ready to sponsor Afghan minority refugees.

Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted to him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan.

And further, we urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise the persecution faced by this community with her Afghan counterpart and to strongly advocate for more to be done to protect them.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Respect for human rights is fundamental to the development of more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous societies. Consequently, the promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy and bilateral engagement.

Freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to worship in peace and security, is a universal human right. People must be able to practise their religion without fearing for their lives and safety. This is why Canada consistently advocates for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities around the world including in Afghanistan, through both bilateral and multilateral forums. It is also why Canada established the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2015 to encourage and deepen coordination between like-minded countries to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief.

Over the past four decades of conflict and instability, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious minorities in Afghanistan have been persecuted and victims of targeted violence. Canada offers its heartfelt sympathy to all the victims and their families, including the June 19, 2022, attack by Islamic State-Khorasan Province on a Sikh temple in Kabul.

The promotion and protection of human rights lies at the heart of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. Over the last two decades, Canada’s international assistance in Afghanistan has helped promote respect for diversity and improve the safety of ethnic minority groups. Canada has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the situation of ethnic and religious minorities, and called for the full inclusion of all Afghans into every aspect of society, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender.

Alongside its international allies, Canada continues to call on the de facto Taliban authorities to respect Afghanistan’s international obligations, including protecting the fundamental rights of all Afghans. Moving forward, Canada will continue to work closely with trusted Afghan partners on the ground and international partners to bring attention to the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Afghanistan and to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of marginalized groups, including Sikhs and Hindus. To this end, Canada welcomes the UN Security Council’s decision to establish a strong human rights mandate for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) during UNAMA’s most recent mandate renewal, as well as the appointment of Richard Bennett as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan on April 1, 2022. Canada has no intention of recognizing the Taliban de facto authorities as the government of Afghanistan.

Canada is also committed to supporting the needs of the most vulnerable Afghans. In 2022, Canada provided over $143 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Canada is supporting a multi-sectoral humanitarian response across Afghanistan, including a particular emphasis on the provision of life-saving food and nutrition assistance. With Canadian support, humanitarian partners provided life-saving food assistance to 22.3 million people and nutrition assistance to 6.2 million children and pregnant and lactating women in 2022.

Canada has committed to resettling at least 40,000 Afghan nationals, including hundreds of vulnerable Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and their families, which remains one of the largest commitments in the world. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working closely with Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, to identify and welcome these vulnerable Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and their families. The Government of Canada appreciates the Foundation's work in resettling Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and continuing its legacy to help the most vulnerable. Afghan Sikhs and Hindus may also be privately sponsored by other groups in Canada or may be among those referred for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as a persecuted religious or ethnic minority, as part of the humanitarian program for Afghans. To date, more than 28,000 Afghans have been welcomed to Canada.

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Marie-France Lalonde, M.P.

The Government of Canada takes the protection and promotion of human rights seriously and is deeply concerned with the discrimination and violence that has affected Sikhs, Hindus and other religious and ethnic communities in Afghanistan. We strongly condemn the attacks against these communities and offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.

The Government of Canada remains firmly committed to resettling at least 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of 2023. Our commitment to resettle vulnerable Afghan nationals to Canada is being fulfilled through several pathways, including a humanitarian program focused on resettling women, LGBTQ2 people, human rights defenders, journalists and members of religious and ethnic minorities. As of February 1, 2023, we have welcomed 27,870 vulnerable Afghans to Canada.

Resettling refugees is a proud part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. It demonstrates to the world that Canada has a shared responsibility to help those who are displaced, persecuted and most in need of protection. As with previous large-scale resettlement efforts, we welcome the support of the many Canadians who want to lend a helping hand. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program is one of the oldest and best known resettlement programs in the world.

Through this program, we’re expanding our partnership with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation (MSBF), a sponsorship agreement holder, to resettle hundreds of persecuted Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. In partnership with MSBF, we also created a dedicated public policy to resettle vulnerable members of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities on August 6, 2021.

As part of a further measure to engage the goodwill of Canadians and bring vulnerable Afghans to Canada, on October 17, 2022, Canada put in place a temporary public policy to facilitate the sponsorship of up to 3,000 privately sponsored Afghan refugees by Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, which waived the Refugee Status Determination requirement for Afghan refugees outside of Afghanistan. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received a significant number of requests, demonstrating once again the willingness of Canadians to contribute to our resettlement efforts. IRCC received the maximum number of applications to fill all spots in this program and the program is now full. However, Groups of Five and Community Sponsors can continue supporting refugees through other methods of private sponsorship, such as our regular PSR program that continues to be available. More information on how to sponsor a refugee can be found on our website at Sponsor a refugee -

We are working with our partners, both internationally and within the Government of Canada, to find comprehensive solutions, as we know many persecuted minorities remain in Afghanistan. There are operational challenges due to the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan that compromise our ability to ensure the safety and security of our clients and our staff. Support for religious freedoms both at home and abroad remains a priority for the Government of Canada, and we will continue to facilitate refugee resettlement and honour our international humanitarian commitments.

All key statistics, updated regularly, may be found on the Departmental website at #WelcomeAfghans: Key figures -

IRCC’s public policies may be consulted on the Departmental website at Public policies -


Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
February 6, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01113)
Government response tabled
March 22, 2023
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus

46 signatures

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.