Are You up to the Lifeline Syria Challenge?

September 16th, 2015

Lifeline-Syria-Photo-by-Mustafa-Öztürk-for-UNHCR-Relief-effort-for-Syrian-refugees-in-Syria-Lebanon-border-March-2012-720x294United Nations officials have warmly greeted a citizen-led initiative to resettle 1,000 Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) over the next two years.

Lifeline Syria is mobilizing communities to recruit, train and assist sponsor groups to welcome and settle Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants through Canada’s unique Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

As some of Toronto’s leading citizens, politicians, faith and community leaders prepared to launch Lifeline Syria on June 17, the UNHCR’s Representative in Canada, Furio De Angelis, welcomed the initiative and its potential to make a global impact.

“We welcome this initiative by Torontonians as it is an important step towards UNHCR’s global appeal to increase resettlement or other humanitarian admission programs for the most vulnerable refugees from the war in Syria,” Mr. De Angelis said.

“Let this be a launching pad for yet another show of generosity and solidarity by Canadians to provide protection to refugees in need, like during Operation Lifeline in the 80’s.”

Emulating the success of Operation Lifeline in 1979, when Canadians stepped up to resettle 60,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Lifeline Syria will give residents of the GTA an opportunity to help resolve what has been described as the biggest humanitarian emergency since World War II.

Lifeline Syria has already inspired Ryerson University to launch its own youth-fuelled initiative to help refugees caught up in the Syrian conflict. The Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge is recruiting student volunteers to work with 25 sponsor teams to bring 25 families or 100 Syrian refugees to Toronto. They have already raised more than $270,000 and have a number of options available for anyone who wants to get involved.


“The image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi was a turning point,” said Wendy Cukier, Vice President Research and Innovation, Ryerson University and Executive Lead on the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.

“We have been flooded with offers to help: new sponsors, new donors and new volunteers. Students, alumni, faculty, administrators and partners of the university are stepping up. This initiative aligns with our mission to meet societal needs, our focus on city building and diversity, and our commitment to providing meaningful experiential learning for the next generation of leaders and changemakers.”

Learn more about how to join the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.

Photo by Mustafa Öztürk for UNHCR Relief effort for Syrian refugees in Syria-Lebanon border, March 2012.


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