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Canada facing challenges in processing Afghan refugees, Trudeau says

Click to play video: '‘They’re really at the mercy of governments’: Afghan refugees losing hope for Canadian help' ‘They’re really at the mercy of governments’: Afghan refugees losing hope for Canadian help
WATCH: 'They're really at the mercy of governments': Afghan refugees losing hope for Canadian help – Apr 12, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the circumstances in Afghanistan are “heartbreaking” but Canada is facing challenges in processing refugees trying to flee the war-torn country.

Trudeau, whose Liberal government promised to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees in Canada, said Wednesday the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban is making the situation “unbelievably difficult.”

“As might be imagined, the Taliban are not exactly being helpful in terms of bringing people out of Afghanistan to Canada,” he said at a media availability in Kitchener, Ont.

“We continue to work with partners in the region and with allies around the world.”

Click to play video: '‘Our patience is over’ says Afghan waiting for IRCC application while enduring financial difficulties' ‘Our patience is over’ says Afghan waiting for IRCC application while enduring financial difficulties
‘Our patience is over’ says Afghan waiting for IRCC application while enduring financial difficulties – Apr 12, 2022

Afghans who risked their lives to support Canada’s military mission, along with Canadian veterans who worked closely with them, have criticized the government’s refugee program for being slow and mired in red tape.

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The Veterans Transition Network, a group working to help Afghans who assisted the Canadian Armed Forces, announced earlier this week it was winding down evacuation operations.

Executive director Oliver Thorne said “bureaucratic hoops” to getting the proper paperwork are causing a bottleneck, and he called on the Canadian government to resume consular services in Afghanistan.

Read more: Canada must ‘fulfill the promise’ and rescue remaining Afghans, veterans say

Retired major-general Denis Thompson, who sits on the network’s board, said about 700 Afghans eligible to come to Canada are stuck in Pakistan because they don’t have an exit visa from that country.

He urged Canada to negotiate with Pakistan to change the exit visa requirements. Those talks should have begun much earlier, he said, before Pakistan began going through recent political upheaval.

Click to play video: 'Lack of support for Afghan refugees frustrating Canadian veterans' Lack of support for Afghan refugees frustrating Canadian veterans
Lack of support for Afghan refugees frustrating Canadian veterans – Apr 27, 2022

Trudeau said his government remains committed to welcoming 40,000 Afghans, including interpreters and others who worked with the Canadian military, as well as providing humanitarian support to Afghanistan.

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So far, more than 10,600 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada.

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