Canadian Authorities Review Refugee Cases after a Family Expulsion

Nov 26, 2002 12:44 PM EST

Montreal, Canada -- The Canadian government has announced it will review the files of about a thousand refugees after one Algerian family was threatened with expulsion, but found sanctuary in a church in Montreal.

The Bourouisa-Seddikis, a couple and their Canadian-born two-year-old son, spent 10 days in a United Church of Canada in Montreal to avoid being sent back to Algeria. The family was able to leave the church after the Canadian authorities announced that they were postponing the family's deportation and would allow them to make a new request for permanent residence.

The Bourouisa-Seddikis had taken refuge in the church the night before they were due to be deported to Algeria.

The North African nation has been rocked by violent insurrection since early 1992 when the authorities cancelled a parliamentary election that radical Islams were poised to win. According to the government, more than 100,000 many of them civilians, have been killed.

"The decision to expel the Bourouisa-Seddikis put them in danger," explained the church's pastor, the Rev. Darryl Gray. "In such circumstances, their request for asylum deserved to be heard."

In responding to the family's request for sanctuary, Gray said that he relied on a guide to parishes published by the United Church in 1997. "Offering sanctuary, opening our doors is not necessarily the best solution, but it is a tool, it is an important tool that we have at our disposal."

The Canadian authorities said that they would re-examine the cases of about a thousand Algerian refugees without papers, the vast majority of them living in the Montreal area, although humanitarian groups say the authorities' new criteria remain too vague.

By Albert H. Lee
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