Press Release Support Afghan Refugees
Press Release • Communiqué de presse

WUSC encourages Canadian universities, colleges and CEGEPs to support Afghan refugees through the Student Refugee Program.

OTTAWA, September 29, 2021- WUSC is inviting the presidents and leaders of Canadian post-secondary education institutions to increase their support to Afghan refugees through its uniquely Canadian Student Refugee Program.

Earlier this week, Canada made a bold commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees. The government will need Canadian individuals and institutions to step up and lend a hand if it is to meet that goal. WUSC’s Student Refugee Program is one such initiative that empowers individual students, teachers and staff to sponsor young refugees to resettle in Canada and continue their education. It is the only program of its kind to combine resettlement with opportunities for higher education.

Founded by WUSC in 1978, the program has sponsored over 2,200 refugees from 39 countries to study at over 100 university, college, and CEGEP campuses across the country. WUSC invites more post-secondary institutions across Canada to join this effort.

“We challenge Canadian universities, colleges and CEGEPs to continue Canada’s proud history of responding to the needs of refugees during times of crisis,” announced Chris Eaton, Executive Director at WUSC. “We ask them to join our efforts by providing education and safe haven to Afghan youth through WUSC’s long-standing Student Refugee Program.”

Already, 38 campuses have reached out to learn more, including six campuses that would be new partners to the Student Refugee Program. WUSC encourages other post-secondary institutions to do the same and learn more about how they can be part of the solution through the program.

Young Afghans in particular are in dire need of solutions to their displacement. Following years of progress on education in the country, which saw national enrolment figures grow tenfold, the future of education for an entire generation is now at stake.

The situation is particularly pressing for girls and young women. In 2001, there were almost no girls enrolled in school. Less than two decades later, girls represented 39% of students across the country. Recently, the Taliban ordered the reopening of secondary schools for boys, making no mention of the millions of girls eagerly awaiting to return to the classroom.

Already through the Student Refugee Program, WUSC has resettled more than 60 Afghan refugees to Canada. For the 2022-2023 academic year, WUSC is hoping to support an additional cohort of Afghans, but it will need the help of its post-secondary partners to achieve this goal. The organization is working with its existing partner institutions to increase the funding and support for this program. They are also seeking new institutional partners to start the Student Refugee Program on their campus.

In 2015, WUSC put out a similar call to the higher education community to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. Canadian universities, colleges and CEGEPs helped resettle an additional 80 refugee students that year, providing a life-changing opportunity to these young students.

The Canadian post-secondary education community can and must step up once again to respond to the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan. Only they can provide displaced students hope for a brighter future through education and the pursuit of a better life in Canada.

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About WUSC: WUSC is a Canadian non-profit organization working to create a better world for all young people. We bring together a diverse network of students, volunteers, schools, governments, and businesses who share this vision. Together, we foster youth-centred solutions for education, economic opportunities, and empowerment to overcome inequality and exclusion in over 25 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Our flagship program, the Student Refugee Program, has been providing Canadian post-secondary education and resettlement opportunities to young refugees for over 40 years.

For more information, please contact:
Alizée Zapparoli-Manzoni-Bodson
Manager, Strategic Communications, WUSC
[email protected]

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