The Plight of Eritrean Refugee Committee at St. Nicholas church was created to help address the issues that Eritrean refugees face once they leave Eritrea. The Committee was created with a group of volunteers led by Fr. Vittorio Boria to work in conjunction with the Office of Refugees in the Archdioceses of Toronto (ORAT).
In November, 2009, the group organized a conference – The Plight of Eritrean Refugees- where various speakers from agencies and government spoke about issues related to immigration and refugee cases. The main focus of the conference included:
- speeding the process for Eritreans who have applied for refugee status
- helping end a mounting crisis that has left thousands stranded in camps in Kenya, Egypt, Sudan and Libya
- alerting the public and federal government about the situation
- urging the public and federal government to condemn the actions of countries that violate the safety and basic human rights of these refugees and to call on the international community to take action so that Eritrean refugees are protected.
- urging the government to increase the number of government and privately sponsored refugees to Canada and ensure the fairness of eligibility requirements of Eritrean refugee claims.
Working with the O.R.A.T. office has given us the tools to connect with the other agencies and express our concerns that Eritrean refugee have encountered. This includes meeting with the Canadian Council for Refugees as well as meeting with the Minister Responsible for Citizenship and Immigration. Recently our committee attended a meeting held with the Minister and the Iraqi community. The focus of the meeting was to help increase the private sponsorship for Iraqi refugees. Father Vittorio had an opportunity to request that the Minister address the problems faced by Eritrean and other African refugees whose processes are held up in the Nairobi Immigration office. The Minister committed to visiting and helping address those issues. read more