The first planeload of Syrian refugees arrived late Thursday in Toronto where they were welcomed by Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and members of his Cabinet.
“We really would like to thank you for all this hospitality and the warm welcome and all the staff—we felt ourselves at home and we felt ourselves highly respected,” said Kevork Jamkossian, who was among the first to emerge from the plane with his wife and their daughter, Madeleine.
Trudeau replied: “You are home. Welcome home.”
Jamkossian, a blacksmith, his wife, a sales clerk, and their daughter spent eight months in Lebanon before their arrival on Thursday.
“We suffered a lot,” Jamkossian said. “Now, we feel as if we got out of hell and we came to paradise.”
There are several videos of the interactions Trudeau had with the new arrivals. Here is one:
The more than 160 Syrians who arrived from Beirut, the Lebanese capital, are part of the 25,000 refugees Trudeau’s government has pledged to accept by the end of February. Another planeload of refugees is expected to arrive Saturday. The Canadian airlifts are being carried out from Beirut and Amman, the Jordanian capital, the two cities where the Canadian government has set up refugee-processing centers for Syrian fleeing their civil war.