I came across this story on cbc radio's website about Refugees are risking severe frostbite to get to Canada.The doctor at the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare,Dr. Paul Caulford was interviewed and spoke of treating "unprecedented numbers" of asylum seekers who had arrived at his clinic with severe weather-related injuries.
The picture above is that of Maggie Yeboah, volunteer coordinator for African Communities of Manitoba, shown with Seidu Mohammad in hospital. Mohammad, a 24-year-old refugee from Ghana, was found on Highway 75 after crossing the US-Canada border and walking in the cold for several hours.
In Manitoba last week, two refugee claimants from Ghana were hospitalized after a seven hour walk to Canada from North Dakota in frigid weather. Now, in Toronto, doctors have seen nine cases in the past three weeks of frostbite. That's after women and children were left in remote areas of the city by human smugglers.
Environment Canada records show the temperature in the Emerson, Man., area on the morning of Dec. 24 was hovering around the –18 C mark before the windchill. CBC meteorologist John Sauder said skin can freeze within 30 minutes in that temperature.
Whenever I see africans risking life and limb like this for a better life abroad I get so emotional. Truly most of these journeys are not made out of greed but the desperate need for a better life. So when will our politicians keep the promises they ma
de to us and provide a better life for all Africans instead of concentrating on self enrichment?
Here are some excerpts of the interview:
HM: Who is transporting them?
PC: We hear that they have been transported in a truck, generally. There are a number of people in a cold, unlit truck. The journey can take up to three hours. All cases have come from the US. Their original journey started in sub-Saharan Africa.
HM: Given where they originate, do they even know what frostbite is?
PC: Even for us, we've been stunned when, I guess it was the last patient we saw, put her hand out finally. She looked at us and said, "What is wrong with my hands?" We said it's frostbite. "What is that?" was the answer. In the first case, the woman's hands that were most severely injured that I described, she had huddled her 18-month-old child under the only coat she had and had kept that hand over that child's face for three hours.
"It's heartbreaking to see it in the children, in the mother. You think about what that mother did for three hours and you are moved by it."- Dr. Paul Caulford
HM: Have you heard from them or from anyone who is keeping an eye on what is happening here, why they decided to make this trip from the US to Canada?
PC: Their comments to us are that they are told it's not a good environment for them to be in the United States now as a refugee, as somebody coming in to make a claim. They've been told that they are going to have to have their journey extended.
HM: What do you think of the people who are transporting these folks across the Canadian border?
PC: I believe they are no different than the people who are transporting them in rickety boats and leaving children on the beach dead. I believe that they are criminals. By abandoning them in a desolate park, at -15 C with an 18-month-old, should just shock everybody to the core.
you can read the full article here
and another article on the state of things here
image credit:Maggie Yeboah