An operation to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada has begun, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday, with 10,000 people due to depart for their new home by the end of the year.
Processing, including security checks, began at a military base in Jordan's capital Amman on Sunday, said Craig Murphy, who briefed journalists in Geneva by phone.
New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on the plan to resettle 25,000 people displaced by the four-year civil war in Syria, but the idea has come under increasing political fire following the attacks in Paris.
There is no evidence that a Syrian refugee was among the jihadists who attacked multiple Paris nightspots on November 13, but Trudeau has faced growing calls to rethink the plan over the last two weeks.
Trudeau has vowed to press ahead, and a large contingent of Canadian immigration officers was on the ground in Jordan at the weekend, processing more than 200 people within the first 48 hours, Murphy said.
The first flights bringing the displaced to Canada are expected to leave Jordan by the middle of the month, he added.
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The remaining 15,000 people are scheduled to fly to Canada early next year, the IOM said.
Murphy said candidates are being asked about past military service in Syria, but that a military background is not a disqualifier for resettlement.
Canadian media have widely reported that, following the Paris attacks, Canada had decided not accept any single men for resettlement.
Murphy said he was "not privy" to any such policy, but noted that through the early days of processing it was clear Canadian officials were "targeting nuclear families and large families."
IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said the speed at which Canada was approving candidates was "interesting", as the plan to resettle 120,000 refugees within European Union remains largely stalled.
Last month, the UN said that less than 200 people had been resettled under the EU plan, which was agreed on September 22.
Some EU leaders have called for changes to the bloc's deal on Syrian refugees, citing security concerns.