Canadian Government Withdraws Most Embassy Staff as Violence in Syria Continues
The Canadian government has withdrawn all but a few core personnel from its diplomatic staff in Syria.
Foreign Minister John Baird and junior foreign minister Diane Ablonczy, who is responsible for consular affairs, issued a joint statement Tuesday saying that while Canada’s embassy in Damascus remains open for now, its visa and immigration section has been closed and only limited services are being offered.
“Due to travel restrictions imposed by the Syrian authorities and the ongoing deterioration of the security situation, our ability to help Canadians in other locations in the country has been significantly reduced,” the statement said.
The announcement comes after the Canadian government gave earlier warning signs that embassy is on a day-to-day watch to determine if its doors will remain open. Last week, Canada issued new sanctions against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.
In an unprecedented move, Canada began a “voluntary evacuation” with a deadline of Jan. 14 to get Canadian citizens and their family members out of Syria.
“During the past month, our officials have placed more than 3,400 calls to Canadians that were known to be in Syria,” according to Canadian officials. The embassy in Damascus has received more than 470 requests for expedited services.