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Canada wants to welcome 5,000 Palestinians with family in the country

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press “The biggest challenge is what Canada cannot control, that is, who can leave the Gaza Strip,” according to Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller.

Even if only a handful of Gazans among the 1000 that Canada has committed to welcoming have actually managed to make the journey to the country, Ottawa is raising its reception ceiling, and is now extending the hand to 5000 family members of Canadians.

“The biggest challenge is what Canada cannot control, that is, who can get out of the Gaza Strip,” Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, told a parliamentary committee on Monday.

The minister also offered some statistics showing that Canada has actually managed to issue only a quarter (254) of the temporary resident visas promised as part of a special measure aimed at welcoming family members of Canadians. . Of this number, only 41 have arrived in Canada.

This delay is due to the fact that Palestinians eligible for this special program first have the task of traveling to Cairo, Egypt. This is currently impossible since the Rafah border is closed, like the other crossing points. Egypt is where refugees must provide biometric data, such as fingerprints, and where their criminal backgrounds are checked, for example.

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However, some people have managed to leave Gaza on their own in recent months, such as using travel documents issued by another country. The fate of the others depends on the goodwill of the Israeli army to let people pass on the list of those accepted by Canada.

“There still remains that we will have to have a breakthrough, a humanitarian pause to ensure that the people still stuck in Rafah can get out,” Minister Marc Miller told journalists.

He says he has received “some positive signals” from the Israeli government to the effect that the Canadian reception program could be recognized by this country, which currently controls entries and exits from Gaza.

“The whole program was built on the presumption that there was going to be some way to get them out of Gaza. It didn't happen, and so people had to pay extraordinary amounts of money to go to Egypt and then to Cairo,” Miller lamented.

Launched on January 9, Canada's program is only open to family members of a citizen or permanent resident of Canada currently living in the country. He was quickly criticized for his slowness in issuing visas.

Racha Ayash has not heard from her mother since last October. His sister, brother and their respective families are still stuck in Gaza, waiting to be accepted for this special visa. The 45-year-old woman, based in Montreal, braved the pouring rain in front of the entrance to Parliament on Monday to try to draw the attention of Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs to their misfortune.

“I left my five children at home, with my big daughter, to be here and ask: “please, Mélanie Joly, help us to make the correspondence, to summon our family [to an appointment to obtain the visa]”,” she explains to Devoir, dressed in a plastic poncho covering her veil and her keffiyeh.

She argues that other countries, such as the United States and countries in Europe, managed to get members of the family of their citizens, where Canada fails. Despite everything, she is delighted to see Canada raise the ceiling for admissions to its special program for Gaza.

“It’s very good. We hope to increase this number [further] since there are really a lot of people who need help [and] to have a life here. »

Despite difficulties in accessing the special program for family members of Canadians, approximately 1,200 Palestinians managed to enter Canada through other immigration routes.

Questioned by the elected members of the standing committee on citizenship and immigration, Marc Miller did not want to come forward any further than the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the subject of the request for an international arrest targeting the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116