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Trudeau government announces fivefold increase in number of visas for Palestinians

Canada’s immigration minister has announced a major increase to the number of visas available for Palestinians in Gaza.

Marc Miller said this morning that applications for the “temporary resident visa” program will be expanded from 1,000 to 5,000.

He said in a statement that his government is “deeply concerned about the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Gaza.”

The visas allow Palestinians who live in Gaza and are related to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to move to Canada.

<who> Photo credit: Marc Miller/X

The program also extends to people related to a citizen or permanent resident who isn't yet in the country but who intends to live in Canada.

When these people enter Canada, they are permitted to stay for up to three years on the visa.

Gaza’s government, the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas, launched a war against Israel on Oct. 7 last year when it massacred over 1,000 people, most of them civilians, during an invasion of its neighbour.

The group also kidnapped hundreds of people, including children and seniors.

Israel has since struck back, leading to an unknown number of deaths. Hamas claims more than 36,000 people have died in Gaza since it attacked Israel.

“While movement out of Gaza is not currently possible, the situation may change at any time,” Miller said in his statement.

“With this cap increase, we will be ready to help more people as the situation evolves. Our focus remains on keeping families together.”

He added: “Canada continues to put forward the names of those who have passed preliminary screening to local authorities to secure their exit from Gaza.”

Miller has recently been under fire from some Palestinian and Muslim groups in Canada. He and the Trudeau government have been accused of failing to act as promptly or as generously as they did when Ukraine was invaded by Russia in 2022.

He is set to provide a briefing about the visas today when he appears before the House of Commons immigration committee.

His department has said 179 visas have been issued under the Gaza program so far, but doesn't know how many people, if any, have since come to Canada.

The vast majority of people living in Gaza cannot leave the territory since both of its land neighbours – Israel and Egypt – have sealed their borders.

Its sea and air space, meanwhile, are both controlled by Israel.

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