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Canada lays out plan to get families of citizens out of ‘unlivable’ Gaza

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas: Feds announce temporary visas for people in Gaza with Canadian relatives'
Israel-Hamas: Feds announce temporary visas for people in Gaza with Canadian relatives
Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced on Thursday that the federal government would be offering temporary visas for people in Gaza with Canadian relatives. Residents in Gaza have been dealing with daily air and land strikes from Israeli Defence Forces in retaliation for Hamas's deadly attack in Israel on Oct. 7 – Dec 21, 2023

Canada has unveiled temporary immigration measures to help the family members of Canadians get out of Gaza, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas rages on.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller made the announcement Thursday, which includes a path for extended relatives of Canadians to flee the conflict zone and become temporary residents.

“This expands the definition and allows us a greater set of people that may not be permanent residents or Canadians, but for all intents and purposes represent the family,” said Miller.

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas: UN agencies warn of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza'
Israel-Hamas: UN agencies warn of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

The extended family members in Gaza of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given temporary residence status for three years so they can reunite with loved ones in Canada. These relatives include spouses, common-law partners, children, grandchildren and siblings.

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“Many are concerned about the safety of loved ones currently residing in Gaza. It is unlivable,” Miller said at a news conference in Ottawa.

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He expects hundreds of people will be eligible but said he could not provide an exact number.

“We will do our utmost to assist but cannot guarantee safe passage. Canada does not determine who, when or how many persons can cross Rafah on any particular day.”

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas: Humanitarian pause talks stall as Gaza crisis deepens'
Israel-Hamas: Humanitarian pause talks stall as Gaza crisis deepens

The new measures also include supports for Israelis and Palestinians who have already fled to Canada.

Ottawa is waiving fees for work and study permits for those arriving from Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, along with Israelis and Palestinians who feel unsafe returning home and want to stay in Canada.

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On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the situation in Gaza “extremely difficult” and insisted the federal government is working to get citizens and their families out.

“Well over 600 have come already, but there is more to do,” the prime minister said at a housing announcement in Toronto. “Ultimately what we need to do is ensure the viability of a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state living in peace, living in security into the future.”

Israel has vowed to defeat Hamas, which rules Gaza. Israel says Hamas killed 1,200 people and took another 240 hostages in the group’s Oct. 7 attacks. Officials with the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry say Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 20,000.

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