Canada wants to welcome more Palestinians stuck in the Gaza Strip

Canada wants to welcome more Palestinians stuck in the Gaza Strip
Canada wants to welcome more Palestinians stuck in the Gaza Strip

OTTAWA — The federal immigration minister is increasing the number of applications that can be processed from 1,000 to 5,000 under a program aimed at reuniting Palestinians with Canadian relatives — but which is widely criticized for its ineffectiveness.

The move comes as Marc Miller testifies in the Commons about measures introduced months ago to bring to safety the loved ones of Canadians stuck in conflict zones in the Gaza Strip and Sudan.

The program for the Gaza Strip initially included a cap of 1,000 temporary resident visa applications that could be “accepted for processing.” Mr. Miller is now increasing this number to 5,000, and each application may include several members of the same family.

But Canadians of Palestinian origin complained of inconsistent messaging and onerous demands that reportedly prevented people from leaving the Gaza Strip before Israel closed the Rafah gateway to Egypt.

Sudan’s civil war broke out last spring, but family members say authorities expect their loved ones will not arrive in Canada until the end of the year, citing delays in making arrangements. fingerprint and other biometric requirements.

Minister Miller testified at noon Monday before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to inform MPs about the two programs.

The Immigration Department says that as of April 29, it had granted 179 temporary resident visas under the Gaza Strip program, but it does not know if these people have actually arrived in Canada.

In a press release, Mr. Miller explained Monday that Canada continues to communicate to Israeli and Egyptian authorities the names of “people who have successfully completed a preliminary examination” in order to guarantee their exit from Gaza, even if these people cannot leave. the besieged territory.

“Although it is currently not possible to leave Gaza, the situation could change at any time,” Minister Miller said. With this increase in the cap, we will be ready to help more people as the situation evolves. Our priority remains keeping families together.”

Reports continue to emerge of Palestinians paying thousands of dollars to successfully reach Egypt, with no real guarantee of their resettlement status thereafter.

Relatives in Canada say they received unclear information from Ottawa about whether those who paid to cross could still access the Canadian program.

The program for the Gaza Strip involves temporary stay visas, while the program for Sudan involves permanent residency.

The New Democratic opposition denounced the boondoggle in these two programs and accused the Liberal government of failing to learn lessons from other conflicts, such as the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021.

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