The Afghan Refugee Crisis Within BC’s Context

With issues like the Afghan Refugee Crisis, there can be an overwhelming amount of information that also quickly loses steam. PIRS knows that you want to help, but might not know how to! We are here to help update you with information specific to our local BC context and with a gendered lens. We tell you the most urgent needs and how you can help!

Between August 23rd and September 27th, 300 Government Assisted Refugees (GAR) arrived in Metro Vancouver, with over half (55%) being children under the age of 18. 78 families have arrived so far, and we are expecting many more families in the coming months.

There is a significant literacy gap between principal applicants and their spouses:

  • Principal applicants: 36% do not have any English language proficiency; 9% cannot read/write in their primary language; 25% lack digital literacy.

  • Spouses: 60% do not have any English language proficiency; 21% cannot read/write in their primary language; 42% lack digital literacy.

(Source: ISS of BC)

Large populations of children arriving require childcare and/or education. Meanwhile, refugee women arrive and find themselves without local support systems, facing inaccessible and expensive childcare, and are already at a disadvantage in terms of literacy and English language proficiency.

Without access to childcare and resources, women miss out on orientation services and personal and professional opportunities that are necessary for their transition into Canadian life and their sense of belonging and agency.

Currently, the most urgent needs are:

  • Permanent Housing: housing units at Income Assistance rates for families of 1-9 people. So far, only 16 families, or 54 individuals, have obtained permanent housing
  • Gift Cards: to provide immediate support to families to help offset day to day costs (e.g. grocery stores, TransLink)
  • English Language Classes: 58% are not proficient in English at all, creating a significant barrier
  • Welcoming Communities: Help dispel myths about refugees, sharing knowledge, and building connections

(Source: ISS of BC)

At PIRS, we understand the challenges of being a newcomer woman, and we want to help newcomer women not only transition into, but also thrive in Canadian life.

Our Afghan Women Fund aims to raise $50,000 to support 50 families and:

  • provide more trauma-informed English classes for women and their children
  • deliver culturally relevant mental health support
  • provide accessible childcare where newcomers will be oriented or housed.

Between August 23 and September 27, 165 Afghan refugee children (0-18y/0) arrived in BC. PIRS’ Pop-Up Childcare already served 52 children (33%) of the recent arrivals, and we are expecting more.

How can you help?