December 9, 2015 / 8:05 PM / 4 years ago

First planeload of Syria refugees to arrive in Toronto on Thursday

A camera operator stands in a children's play area during a tour of the Infield Terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport, that is set up as a temporary port-of-entry for Syrian refugees entering Canada in Mississauga, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The first planeload of Syrian refugees from camps in Jordan and Lebanon will arrive in Canada on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

Another such aircraft will arrive in Montreal on Saturday, he told legislators.

“Resettling refugees demonstrates our commitment to Canadians and the world that Canada understands we can and must do more,” said Trudeau.

The Liberal government plans to resettle 10,000 refugees from Syria’s four-year-old civil war by the end of the year and a further 15,000 by the end of February. Officials say the refugees on the first plane loads will be mostly or entirely privately sponsored.

The government last month acknowledged that its original Jan. 1 target for accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees was too difficult to meet. Trudeau made the initial pledge part of his election campaign but a wide array of critics said the goal was unrealistic.

Ottawa plans to accept Syrians from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. But Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum said on Wednesday the process was not as advanced in Turkey as in the other two nations.

His department's website (here) said that as of Dec. 3, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees had referred 8,554 Syrians to Canadian officials for interviews.

As of Dec. 7, there were 1,451 Syrian refugees who had received permanent resident visas to come to Canada but had not arrived. McCallum said Canadian officials were now interviewing a total of 800 refugees each day in Amman and Beirut.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Alistair Bell

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