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Canada Announces Increase in Visas for Palestinians in Gaza

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Canada Announces Increase in Visas for Palestinians in Gaza
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller speaks during an announcement in the Foyer of the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, May 23, 2024.

In a significant humanitarian effort, Canada announces a five-fold increase in the number of visas available to Palestinians in Gaza, raising the cap to 5,000. This decision is part of a special program initiated in December, originally allotting 1,000 temporary resident visas. The increase reflects Canada’s commitment to aiding families affected by the ongoing conflict.

Expressing deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Immigration Minister Marc Miller emphasized the importance of reuniting families. “We remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Gaza. Many people are worried about their loved ones and have expressed significant interest in the temporary special measures we introduced for their extended family in Gaza,” Miller stated.

The Canadian government faces challenges in facilitating the movement of applicants out of Gaza due to external factors. Residents must obtain approval from Israeli authorities to leave the territory and undergo biometric screening in Egypt. Despite these obstacles, Canada is prepared to act swiftly as the situation evolves. “While movement out of Gaza is not currently possible, the situation may change at any time. With this cap increase, we will be ready to help more people as the situation evolves. Our focus remains on keeping families together,” Miller added.

Canada Announces Five-fold Increase in Visas for Palestinians in Gaza | Dawn News English

As of now, 448 Gazans have been issued temporary visas, including 254 under policies not related to the special visa program, with 41 having successfully arrived in Canada. Canada is collaborating with Israeli and Egyptian authorities to facilitate these humanitarian measures and ensure the safe reunion of families in Canada. Despite some criticism of the visa program due to difficulties in getting Palestinians out of Gaza, the Canadian government continues to put forward the names of those who have passed preliminary screening to local authorities.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly also called for an immediate ceasefire, condemning the recent Israeli attack on a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah. “We are horrified by strikes that killed Palestinian civilians in Rafah. This level of human suffering must come to an end. We demand an immediate ceasefire,” Joly stated, following the tragic incident that resulted in the deaths of 45 people and injuries to 249 others.

The ongoing conflict has led to severe casualties and displacement in Gaza. According to the local health ministry, nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed, and an estimated 1.7 million people, more than 75% of Gaza’s population, have been displaced. Israel’s military campaign began after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on October 7, resulting in around 1,200 Israeli deaths and the seizure of more than 250 hostages.

Canada remains committed to its humanitarian efforts and continues to support calls for a ceasefire, advocating for the protection and reunification of families affected by the conflict. This visa program represents a significant step towards providing hope and relief to those in need during these challenging times.

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