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Canada pledges visas for 5,000 Gazans related to Canadians

Canada pledges visas for 5,000 Gaza residents related to Canadians
World
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Canada on Monday promised to grant temporary visas to 5,000 Gaza residents with Canadian relatives under a special program for Gaza.
Demonstration in Canada in support of Palestinians [GETTY]

Canada said on Monday it would grant temporary visas to 5,000 Gaza residents under a unique program for Canadians' relatives living in the war-torn enclave, a preparatory move in case they can leave in the future.

That figure is an increase from the 1,000 temporary resident visas allotted under a special program for Gaza announced in December, the immigration ministry said in a statement that many people had expressed interest.

"While movement out of Gaza is impossible, the situation may change anytime. With this cap increase, we will be ready to help more people as the situation evolves," Immigration Minister Marc Miller said.

The minister has previously said leaving Gaza is extremely difficult and dependent on approval from Israel.

In one of its latest attacks, an Israeli airstrike triggered a massive blaze, killing 45 people in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders.

Canada has been sharing the names of Gaza residents who have passed preliminary screening to local authorities to secure their exit, Miller said. Israel and Egypt are important to the program's efforts toward reuniting families in Canada, the minister said.

A spokesperson for Miller said some Gaza residents had arrived in Canada under the program, but a precise tally was not immediately available.

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Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive in Gaza, according to the local health ministry, and an estimated 1.7 million people, more than 75% of Gaza's population, have been displaced, according to the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Rafah strike.

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