A group of 164 Syrian refugees are on their way to Canada, part of the new government’s commitment to accept 25,000 refugees by February from the Arab country that has been engulfed in a nearly five-year-long civil war.
The group left the airport in Beirut—one of two cities in the region (the other being Amman, Jordan) where the Canadian government has set up refugee-processing centers—Thursday on a Canadian government plane, which will stop in Cologne, Germany, before arriving in Toronto later Thursday. A second flight with more refugees is expected to arrive Saturday.
Some 416 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 4, but they have come on private aircrafts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government plans to resettle 25,000 Syrians throughout the country by February. The refugees will be a mix of government- and privately sponsored people. The 164 who left Beirut Thursday were privately sponsored, reported CBC, the Canadian broadcaster. Private groups will support them upon their arrival in Canada, CBC added, though the government will pay for their transportation, initial medical costs, and arrival expenses.
Public opposition to the government’s plan has climbed since last month’s Paris attacks. At least two of the attackers were found to have traveled to Europe using fake Syrian passports, in which there is a large trade because of the relative ease with which Syrians fleeing their civil war are granted asylum in the West—though their journeys themselves are by no means easy, and often deadly. Trudeau’s initial plan was to bring in the 25,000 by the end of this year, but his government has since said it will complete the transfer by the end of the February.