Canada to welcome citizens' extended families from Gaza for up to 3 years

Immigration officials have also been asked to prioritize permanent residency applications for Palestinians

By AFP

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Hundreds of Palestinian refugees waving Palestinian and Canadian flags request asylum at a rally outside the the Canadian Embassy, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. People in the Gaza Strip who have Canadian relatives may apply for temporary visas to Canada, Canada’s immigration minister said Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. AP
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees waving Palestinian and Canadian flags request asylum at a rally outside the the Canadian Embassy, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. People in the Gaza Strip who have Canadian relatives may apply for temporary visas to Canada, Canada’s immigration minister said Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. AP

Published: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 9:37 AM

Canada will take in extended families of Canadians in war-torn Gaza for up to three years, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced Thursday.

The move, which is due to take effect on January 9, will allow Canadians to reunite with spouses or common-law partners, children and grandchildren regardless of age, siblings and their immediate families, as well as parents and grandparents.

Miller said the aim of the policy change is "to get people safe" as the humanitarian crisis has made Gaza "unlivable".

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The government had previously focused on getting more than 600 Canadians, their spouses and children out of Gaza.

Miller estimated that it could see hundreds more resettled in Canada while fighting continues to rage in Gaza.

He stressed at a news conference, however, that it is "extremely difficult to leave Gaza and may not be possible for everyone."

"These are situations that are not under our control" and there is a "whole waterfall of scenarios where things could potentially go wrong," he warned.

Miller said he also ordered immigration officials to prioritize permanent residency applications for Palestinians.

The newcomers will require documentation and security checks including a biometrics screening in Cairo before being allowed to board flights to Canada.

Ahmad Al-Qadi, with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told a separate news conference in Ottawa that many Canadians who fled Gaza in recent months had to make an "impossible decision to leave parents and siblings behind in a war zone because they don't have citizenship."

He thanked the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for expanding the eligibility criteria to Canadians' extended families.

The devastating war in Gaza began when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, taking some 250 hostages and killing around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israel's retaliatory bombardment and ground invasion has killed at least 20,000 people, mostly women and children.

Eight Canadian citizens and one person with deep connections to Canada have died in the region since fighting broke out. Another is missing.

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