Examining the Impacts of the COVID‑19 Pandemic on Iraqi Refugees in Canada

Sekercioglu, Fatih | $90,628

Ontario Ryerson University 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

Our research will explore the extent and impact of the indirect and wider health consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic and the resilience of recent refugees in Canada. We will provide recommendations for effective policy interventions for the pandemic’s broader impacts, which will improve preparedness for future health emergencies and pandemics. Our research will generate evidence related to refugees in Canada from war-torn countries. In what the United Nations has called the biggest civilian displacement catastrophe in the 20th and 21st centuries, 2.5 million Iraqi civilians, including the majority of the educated middle class, have sought refuge in other countries, including Canada. Between 2003 and 2018, Canada resettled 37000 Iraqi refugees displaced in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Our study focuses on Iraqi refugees who arrived in Canada between 2015-2021. We will study how existing disparities such as exacerbated poverty and food insecurity, access to health and social services, and systemic racism among the Iraqi refugee population in Canada have changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Our project will consider a lifecycle approach and examine the pandemic impacts on older populations, infants, children and youth from Iraqi refugee populations. London, Ontario, is one of the major urban centres in Canada in which the federal government provides settlement and resettlement services for Iraqi refugees. We have developed a formal partnership agreement with the Canadian Iraqi-Turkmen Culture Association of London. Our study adopts a mixed-methods research approach by utilizing a cross-sectional socio-demographic survey of a sample of Iraqi refugees (quantitative analysis) and focus groups with selected Iraqi refugees in London, Ontario (qualitative analysis). Our results will provide a critical understanding of how refugees in Canada may disproportionately be affected by COVID‑19 and what supports are needed.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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