Canada Expands Gaza Visa Program Cap from 1,000 to 5,000

Immigration Minister Marc Miller on Monday testified before the House immigration committee about the ongoing efforts to bring Palestinian relatives of Canadians out of the Gaza Strip, amid mounting criticism over the government’s handling of the situation. 

The Gaza program, which was initially capped at 1,000 applications, has now been expanded to 5,000, each potentially including multiple family members.

Despite issuing 179 temporary resident permits as of April 29, the Immigration Department is unsure if any Palestinians have actually arrived in Canada through the program. Relatives in Canada have reported receiving mixed information from Ottawa, leading some to miss opportunities to leave Rafah by other means.

Israel’s recent offensive in Rafah, ignoring international calls for restraint, has further complicated the situation. The town, located on the border with Egypt, has become a refuge for Palestinians fleeing Israeli airstrikes and military assaults in the north of the Gaza Strip.

 The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza reports 36,000 deaths, including combatants, which has led to global outcry and calls for a ceasefire from Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.

The Gaza program offers only three years of residency, a decision based on geopolitical considerations and concerns about the perception of Canada participating in the “emptying of Gaza.” Miller emphasized that the government will continue its efforts to bring family members to safety, despite the challenges faced in the region.

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