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e-3775 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Ali Manji from Thornhill, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • There have been many petitions centring around the illegal offensive in Yemen that has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, including but not limited to petitions e-2786, e-2742, e-2442, e-1201, e-1903, and e-1221;
  • Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen breaks the conditions of the Geneva Convention by deliberately targeting civilians and civilian structures, schools and places of worship in Yemen, as documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Médecins Sans Frontières and the United Nations;
  • The Saudi-lead coalition is imposing a blockade on Yemen, with life-saving supplies of food, medication and fuel often delayed for months; and
  • United Nations aid workers were prevented from entering Yemen on July 18, 2017.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Immediately halt all transfer of Canadian made weapons to Saudi Arabia;
2. Cancel all active and pending arms deals with Saudi Arabia;
3. Immediately halt the export of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia and cancel the contract outright;
4. Demand the Saudi-lead coalition immediately end its airstrikes and illegal military offensive;
5. Bring the Saudi government to The Hague for war crimes against humanity;
6. Apply restrictions against Saudi Arabia's leaders as per the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Magnitsky Law);
7. Undertake a massive increase of life-saving humanitarian aid to Yemen; and
8. Extend the G5 exemptions granted to Iraqi and Syrian refugees to Yemeni refugees.

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

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

Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program remains available to people around the world who are most at risk of persecution, have no other access to a durable solution and require permanent protection. We remain firm in our humanitarian commitments and continue to resettle refugees at risk from around the world.

The world is facing an unprecedented global refugee crisis. The UNHCR estimates 100 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, among them are 27.1 million refugees. Canada is increasing targets year after year for our resettlement programs, to accommodate as many refugees in need of international protection as possible. Canada plans to welcome 23,550 Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) and 27,505 Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) in 2023, including 8,000 Government-Assisted Refugees and Blended Visa Office Referred refugees from the Middle East and 10,000 from Africa.

Canada remains deeply concerned about the protracted conflict in Yemen, which has had a devastating impact on millions of people in the country. The Minister of International Development recently announced $46M in funding from Canada in 2023 as part of its continued response to the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected people in Yemen. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to monitor the situation in Yemen very closely and welcomes further engagement on the challenges faced by Yemeni refugees.

Yemenis outside of Yemen may be eligible for resettlement through Canada’s existing refugee programs. Eligible Yemenis can be referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for Canada’s GAR and Blended Visa Office Referred programs. They can also be identified by private sponsors in Canada under the PSR program.

A hallmark of the PSR program is that it allows Canadians and permanent residents to identify, or “name” refugees overseas who are in need of resettlement. The Department does not, in general, designate specific populations for resettlement through the PSR program. 

In 2012, IRCC introduced the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) requirement for private sponsorship applications under the Groups of Five and Community Sponsors streams of the PSR program as a means to better manage application intake and improve application approval rates. Issued by a foreign state or the UNHCR, the RSD certifies that the applicant is recognized as a refugee in their country of asylum. This document provides proof that these applicants already meet Canada’s legal definition of a refugee and therefore IRCC can more quickly process their applications, so eligible refugees can get access to protection as soon as possible.

The public policy temporarily waiving the RSD requirement for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, which was in effect between 2015-2017, was implemented as part of a broader Government of Canada response to the massive outflow of people fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria. The Government of Canada’s response to this crisis also included humanitarian, development and security assistance.

The Government of Canada is not at this time considering a similar RSD waiver for Groups of Five and Community Sponsors seeking to sponsor Yemeni refugees; however, applications submitted by Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) do not require an RSD, as these organizations have significant expertise and experience in selecting eligible refugees. Groups interested in sponsoring a refugee without an RSD may partner with a SAH to bring the refugee to Canada. For organizations interested in becoming a SAH themselves, the 2023 application window to become a SAH will open in the spring.

Currently, individuals who are not eligible for resettlement to Canada as refugees can apply for permanent residence to Canada under other immigration programs, including the Family Class and Economic Class. The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) combines refugee resettlement and economic immigration. In addition, individuals who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada under existing immigration programs may be able to apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. More information about these avenues can be found on the IRCC Website.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada is deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict in Yemen, which has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more, and caused what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting the people of Yemen who continue to need humanitarian assistance, and supporting efforts towards a sustainable solution for peace in Yemen. Canada has been a top-tier donor since the conflict began in 2015. To date, Canada has committed over $411 million in humanitarian relief to Yemen, to support food assistance, clean water and sanitation, shelter, protection and health care, including sexual and reproductive health services.

Respect for human rights is enshrined in Canada’s export controls legislation and is a cornerstone of the export controls regime. Canada’s export controls regime is designed to control the exports of military, dual-use and strategic goods and technology in a lawful manner and consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies, security interests and international obligations. All permit applications for controlled items are reviewed on a case-by-case basis under Canada’s robust risk assessment framework, including against the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) criteria which are enshrined in Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA). Under Canadian legislation, controlled goods and technology will not be exported from Canada where there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit or to facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, or serious acts of gender-based violence or violence against women and children, amongst other criteria.

Officials from Global Affairs Canada have carefully assessed whether military goods exported to Saudi Arabia would be used in a manner consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty and Canada’s domestic legislation. This review, completed in 2020, concluded that exports authorized to date, and exports proposed under permit applications received and assessed to date, were not at substantial risk of being used in contravention of Canadian law or ATT criteria. New export permit applications for Saudi Arabia continue to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are not issued automatically. Applications are subject to Canada’s rigorous risk assessment process, as are all other permits, to determine whether there is a substantial risk that the export would be used in violation of any of the ATT criteria or counter to Canadian foreign or defence policies.

There are no confirmed reports of Canadian-made military equipment being deployed by Saudi Arabia on Yemeni territory. Additionally, there is no evidence or credible reporting that links any Canadian exports to contraventions of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

At the UN High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen, on February 27, 2023, Canada committed an additional $46 million in funding as part of its continued response to the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected people in Yemen. Canada contributes to humanitarian assistance to Yemen through various multilateral organizations such as the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. Canada also supports Canadian non-governmental organizations working with the victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters as well as refugees in the region. In addition, since 2018, Canada has contributed over $22 million in peace and security assistance to Yemen while also supporting the office of the UN Special Envoy.

While the UN-brokered truce expired last October without parties reaching an agreement, recent reports assess that the situation on the ground remains stable and that the Saudi-led coalition has not resumed its military intervention in Yemen. Canada is encouraged by recent reports of progress made in negotiations in Yemen and hopes this process will bring an end to the conflict and the associated humanitarian crisis. Canada continues to support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to help bring about a durable peace in the country. That is why Canada has provided funding and has seconded a Canadian diplomat to the office of the Special Envoy.

The Government of Canada will continue to closely monitor the situation in Yemen. Canada remains committed to addressing Yemen’s humanitarian needs and unwaveringly support efforts toward a permanent and peaceful end to the conflict in that country.

Open for signature
January 24, 2022, at 12:02 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 24, 2022, at 12:02 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre)
February 15, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01145)
Government response tabled
March 31, 2023
Photo - Matthew Green
Hamilton Centre
New Democratic Party Caucus