18:30 GMT +319 June 2019
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    Canada Welcomes Syrian Refugee Children With Cute Teddy Bears

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    Child refugees in Canada have received a nice present from the local government that is supposed to help them adjust to their new life.

    From now on, Syrian kids have a new "Canadian friend", a charming teddy bear that speaks English and Arabic and is supposed to teach them basic communication skills, the official website of Canada's immigration service COSTI said.

    The toy's name is Ahlan, what means "welcome" in Arabic. The teddy bear says simple phrases like "What is your name?" and "I love hockey" in Arabic and then translates them into English.

    "The talking teddy bear named Ahlan which translates to "welcome" in Arabic and conveys the sentiment "You've come to stay with family." And that's exactly how we want refugee children to feel when they arrive in Canada," a statement on the website said.

    The initiative was organized by Canada's immigration service COSTI as part of a pilot project. COSTI's representative Josie Di Zio told the newspaper that the project helps children to develop new communication skills and quickly get used to the new environment.

    "What we see with the Syrian Children here is that they immediately start to pick up words in English and start to practice them and interact with each other and play using their new words," she told the Independent newspaper.

    According to official data, Canada has accepted 35,745 Syrian refugees since November 2015.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with opposition factions and Islamist terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Nusra Front fighting the Syrian Army. Violence and intolerable living conditions have forced many local residents to flee the country.

    In 2015, the influx of refugees to the Western countries reached unprecedented levels since WWII, with many countries struggling to cope with the growing number of newcomers and reacting to the crisis in a different way.
    For instance, Germany, with its "open-door policy" and open border rhetoric lead all of Europe to taking in asylum seekers. In 2015, one million of refugees came to Germany alone.

    The US, for its turn, reached a set goal of welcoming 10,000 refugees from Syria in summer, with 10,172 Syrian refugees being admitted in the United States as of August 29, 2016. All in all, Washington is planning to welcome 85,000 refugees from around the world by the end of fiscal year.

    In Iceland, more than 11,000 families offered to open their homes to Syrian refugees — dwarfing the government's cap of 50 asylum seekers a year. Responding to a Facebook event online, one mother offered a room in her home for a Syrian child. "We have clothes, a bed, toys and everything a child needs," according to a translation by AFP.

    At the same time, not all countries proved helpful in resolving the ongoing refugee crisis. For instance, Hungarian authorities threatened to arrest refugees entering the country, built a fence on its border with Croatia to stem the flow of migrants and deployed hundreds of soldiers and police to control the transit route.

    Related:

    Canada Provides Permanent Housing to 98% of Syrian Refugees - Minister
    Canada Meets Goal on Syrian Refugees Resettlement
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    teddy bear, toys, refugee children, Syria, Canada
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