Canada's Trudeau tells first batch of Syrian refugees: 'You're safe and home now'

Syrian refugees are greeted by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) on their arrival from Beirut at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on Dec. 11, 2015.Reuters

At least 163 Syrian refugees who landed recently in Toronto received a warm welcome from no less than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who handed them winter coats while assuring of their safety in their "new home,'' CNN reported.

The Syrian migrants reportedly belonged to the first batch of refugees who disembarked at Toronto airport early Friday and given permanent resettlement in Canada. The country plans to accept 25, 000 Syrians by the end of February.

"This is a wonderful night where we get to show now just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, but we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult straits,'' the New York Times quoted the prime minister as saying.

The warm airport welcome shown the refugees by the Canadians led by Trudeau stands in contrast to the response of some sectors of the American public to the global migration crisis. The United States is expected to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees by 2016.

Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump earlier issued statements calling for a ban on Muslims travelling to the U.S. The proposal drew criticism worldwide.

Prior to the arrival of the refugees, CNN said Canadian schoolchildren have been preparing letters and signs and posters for weeks to welcome their new neighbours to Canada.

The migrants reportedly thanked the prime minister for greeting them with joy. They were also given donated winter coats, gifts and toys, and were screened one more time at the airport and given permanent residency documents and health cards, giving them access to free health care.

"Now, we feel as if we got out of hell and we came to paradise,'' said one of the refugees who arrived with his family at the airport, CNN reported.

During Canada's election campaign in the fall, Trudeau had pushed for the immediate resettlement of asylum seekers in the country as well their entitlement to free health care without having to wait for it. He won heavily in the election.

Meanwhile, some provincial and municipal leaders on Monday expressed concern that the timeline set by Trudeau to admit all 25,000 Syrian refugees before January 1 does not allow for enough security checks.

Others have also sought to suspend the plan in light of the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, and the possibility of admitting operatives trained by the Islamic State.