US & Canada

Canada prime minister welcomes wave of Syrian refugees

Media captionCanadian PM Justin Trudeau: 'This is a wonderful night'

The first military plane carrying Syrian refugees to be resettled in Canada has arrived in the country.

Welcoming the 163 refugees, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was "showing the world how to open our hearts".

The newly elected Liberal government has pledged to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of February.

Canada's stance on the issue differs sharply to that of the US, which has been reluctant to take in migrants.

Another plane is due in Montreal on Saturday.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said all 10 provinces in Canada are in favour of accepting the refugees.

"This is a great moment for Canada," he said. "This shows the way we really are. It truly is a non-partisan, national project."

Since early November, hundreds of Syrians have already arrived in Canada via commercial aircraft.

A total of about 300 Syrians will arrive this week.

The Toronto Star, the country's largest-circulation daily newspaper, ran a cover story on Thursday welcoming the refugees.

Image copyright Toronto Star

The US administration has said it will take in 10,000 refugees over the next year. Some Republican governors have unsuccessfully tried to keep them from coming to their states after deadly terrorist attacks in France and California.

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said after the California attacks that all Muslims should be blocked from coming to the US, drawing condemnation across the globe.

Global News reporter Mike Armstrong has been taking photos of refugees at Canada's refugee processing centre in Amman, Jordan.

Some families have been told they may move in weeks, he tweeted.

Image copyright Twitter

About 800 refugees are going through screening tests in Lebanon and Jordan daily, Mr McCallum said.

Mr Trudeau, who swept the 19 October Canadian elections, has a different stance on refugees from that of his predecessor, the conservative Stephen Harper, who did not wish to resettle more people.

Unaccompanied men will be excluded from the resettlement programme but officials said this had nothing to do with national security concerns.

"We want them to have a roof over their head, and the right support," said Mr McCallum.

"It takes a bit of time to put that all in place. We're happy to take a little more time than originally planned to bring our new friends into the country."

Those who will be considered refugees include families, women deemed to be at risk, and gay men and women.

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