April 25th, 2024

More families will be allowed to apply to come to Canada from Gaza: Miller

By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press on March 18, 2024.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Immigration Minister Marc Miller says Canada will allow more people trapped in Gaza who have extended family members in Canada to apply for temporary refuge – but he admits the move is “cold comfort.”

The government launched a family reunification program in January that offers temporary refuge to parents, grandparents, siblings and grandchildren of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada initially said it would only consider 1,000 applications for the program.

Miller says the government is increasing the number of people that will be eligible to come out of Gaza.

But none of those whose names have been put forward by the Canadian government have so far been able to cross the tightly controlled border.

Miller says Canada is pleading with Egypt and Israel to let those people out so they can complete their security screening in Egypt and receive a Canadian visa.

“We are indeed increasing the number of people that will be eligible to come out of Gaza. There are a number of matters that are beyond our control, notably the ability to extract people from the Rafah gate,” he said.

“We will be relentless in advocating for people to reunifying with their family members in Canada, if but for a temporary basis.”

As of March 4, 986 applications had been accepted into processing.

Only 12 of those people had made it out of Gaza, finished the screening process and been approved to come to Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement earlier this month.

Immigration lawyers and family members have warned that dozens more people are in limbo – and unclear on whether they are still eligible for the program – after making it across to Egypt by other means, including paying private companies to negotiate their exit with Israeli and Egyptian officials.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.

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