— Writes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Members of the Federation of Liberian Associations in Canada (FLAC) have written the Canadian government through it’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, pleading to grant permanent status to undocumented Liberians who are living in that country.
FLAC is a Liberian-based Canadian not-for-profit organization established on July 30, 2018, and is responsible for advocating and seeking the welfare of all Liberians in that country.
A communication, signed and addressed to Prime Minister Trudeau, on June 10, 2020, by FLAC’s Secretary-General, Wilfred A. Delamy and approved by its President, Prof. Nancy E. Reeves, said: “We are writing to you to seek your assistance and support for all Liberian nationals living in Canada who are caught in the grips of immigration limbo.”
It can be recalled that President Weah and Prime Minister Trudeau, held a virtual conversation on Monday, June 8, 2020, on challenges confronting their respective countries and spoke on taking measures to resolve them.
The two leaders also highlighted the effects of the COVID-19 disease and the importance of a coordinated approach to strengthen capacity in Africa in order to fight the pandemic, while catering to the needs of the most vulnerable. During the hour-long conversation, President Weah and Prime Minister Trudeau affirmed their mutual desire to increase diplomatic ties between their two countries.
FLAC said: “Firstly, we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you and your team for your first official visit to Liberia in 2016, and your Government’s developmental assistance to Liberia in the areas of health, education, food security, and the environment. This has gone a long way in supporting the basic needs of the people of Liberia.”
The communication added that: “We are sure that during you and your team’s visit to our country, you were able to assess for yourself the dire situation and conditions that affect the daily lives of our people in Liberia.”
According to FLAC, living on a dollar a day is not feasible for Canadians, which is the daily norm for people in Liberia.
“The standard of living for our people,” FLAC said, “is nothing short of deplorable, which does not even measure close to other countries within the region.”
“An armchair researcher would argue that the country is safe in terms of economic and security developments, having had two successive elections and transfer of governments,” said FLAC’s release.
The communication indicated that with the meager economic and security gains the Liberia has had during this period, it has been derailed by two public crises — the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
FLAC further indicated that between these two public health crises, there has been no respect for the rule of law crowned by massive corruption at the highest levels in government, increased crime rates and insecurity, leaving the poor and vulnerable in a state of anguish and destitution.
The letter said: “The outcome of this is forced emigration and underdeveloped rural sectors of the country, which serves as the breadbasket for the urban population.
“Forced emigration from Liberia because of increased insecurity, poverty, and massive corruption has landed some of our people on Canada’s borders seeking safe pasture and reliable place for themselves and their respective families. One would thus argue that all of them should get in line just like any other immigrants in Canada. We agree, but when people are oppressed and their fundamental rights to security and optimal existence are threatened by their government, they have no other options but to seek any possible means for safety to another country that can guarantee their rights.”
FLAC said in this case, they have turned to Canada, which is known globally for ensuring fundamental rights.
FLAC stated that: “We have several educated and hardworking Liberians currently in Canada in immigration limbo and, because of that, they are unable to contribute to the economic development of that country.”
The communication added that right now, some are currently working on the frontlines in the healthcare industry in Canada and must bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic because of their work.
“Some are working hard to ensure that the health and well-being of Canadians are protected in their lines of work. Some cannot participate in the Canadian economic development by obtaining higher education, purchase of a home, open business, or even join in civic elections because of their immigration status,” the letter highlighted.
FLAC said living in an immigration limbo with the fear of deportation has adverse health implications which could potentially increase “our public health care costs in this country.”
FLAC added: “On this note, Mr. Prime Minister, we (FLAC) are appealing to you and your government in power to kindly consider the plight of our Liberian brothers and sisters who are living in this country in immigration limbo to obtain a viable permanent status by speeding up the review of their cases.”
If that is done, FLAC believes that it would go a long way in accelerating their political, economic, and social participation in the growth of Canada.
“Our organization is willing to work with you and your team, including the Minister responsible for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, to identify and provide legal and special support in their plea for immigration reprieve. We hope that your office will adhere to our appeals and assist Liberians in this challenging time,” the communication said.