Canada: Correct the Special Humanitarian Assistance Program for Afghans


Atheist Republic calls on Canada to correct its special humanitarian assistance program for Afghan nationals which currently excludes Afghan atheists and humanists fleeing Taliban persecution.

September 16, 2021 -- Atheist Republic has identified a critically important error in Canada's special humanitarian program for Afghan nationals announced in August 2021 which places atheist and humanist refugees at risk of exclusion from Canadian assistance. A key mistake in the program’s eligibility criteria limits assistance to Afghans who are “members of persecuted religious minorities.” The non-religious could be easily mistaken as falling outside of this criterion.

This highly restrictive wording is not aligned with Canada’s United Nations Human Rights responsibilities to protect “freedom of religion or belief” and which defines refugees as those who are “unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” (see 1951 UN Refugee Convention).

In view of this error and other omissions to its August 2021 special humanitarian program and special immigration program for Afghan nationals, Atheist Republic calls on Canada:

  • To issue a clarification to its special humanitarian assistance program for Afghan nationals, to explicitly include non-religious Afghan atheists, humanists, and agnostics.
  • To publicly commit to maintaining its special immigration program and special humanitarian program for Afghan nationals for a minimum 5-year period.
  • To increase funding to Canadian service provider organizations (working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) which are dedicated to providing logistical and social support to Afghan families resettling in Canada.
  • To report publicly on Canada’s status against its August 2021 commitment to resettle 20,000 Afghan nationals at risk of persecution.

Atheist Republic has recently received urgent requests for assistance and evacuation from its members in Kabul and Faisalabad Afghanistan, where it has established a community presence through non-public meet-up groups (known as Atheist Republic Consulates). Consulate members are local atheists who fear imminent and deadly persecution for their atheism.

Atheist Republic is a non-profit organization incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and is dedicated to unifying the already existing demands of many atheists for peace, liberty, justice, and freedom of thought and expression everywhere in the world. Atheist Republic is the world’s largest network of atheists, humanists, and agnostics with members in 259 cities across 71 countries.

For more information contact:

Susanna McIntyre
Atheist Republic Chief Executive Officer,