US & Canada

Canada slows down Syrian refugee intake

Diyako Salamat, 6, attends a rally in Vancouver asing the government to allow more refugees into the country Image copyright AP
Image caption The government had originally planned to resettle 25,000 by year's end

The Canadian government says it will resettle only 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year - less than half the number it promised earlier.

But it said was still committed to bringing another 15,000 refugees from Syria by the end of February.

It had previously promised to take in 25,000 by the year's end.

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he rejected the idea of "exclusion" for single men.

"We want them to have a roof over their head, and the right support," said Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Minister John McCallum.

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

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

The refugees will be both privately sponsored and government-assisted, either registered with the UN Refugee Agency or with the government of Turkey.

Government officials promised "robust" health and security screenings, to be done overseas, and said military and private aircraft would assist with transportation of refugees to Canada.

Refugees will go to 36 "destination" cities, 12 of them in Quebec.

Mr McCallum said the attacks in Paris did not affect the government's decision to slow down the transport of Syrian refugees, citing the logistical struggles with completing the pledge.

Mr Trudeau made Canada's acceptance of Syrian refugees central to his campaign.

After the Paris attacks, he reiterated his commitment to ending Canadian air strikes in Syria and Iraq.