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Stateless Palestinian refugee claimant reunites with family before undergoing surgery

Taha El Taha and his children Ahmad, 7, and Tala, 3.
Taha El Taha and his children Ahmad, 7, and Tala, 3. Supplied

Taha El Taha was admitted to the MUHC’s Montreal General Hospital on Wednesday morning to undergo surgery for Stage 4 colorectal cancer. The 36-year-old was reunited with his wife and two children on Monday, just four days after they were granted temporary resident permits (TPR) in Beirut, Lebanon.

“I feel so good,” El Taha told Global News on Tuesday evening. “Now that my family is here I feel I can fight this.”

The stateless Palestinian crossed into Canada from the United States last December. He had left his family in Lebanon in October and hadn’t seen his children since. The El Taha family’s first request was denied but his wife Amina and children Ahmad, 7, and Tala, 3, were granted TPRs on Friday, and flew from Beirut to Montreal on Monday.

Ahmad, 7, and Tala, 3.

“The Migration Program Manager reviewed the applications and the details of this case and was satisfied that there were compelling humanitarian reasons to issue the TRPs,” Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said. The Canadian government issued a total of 9,223 TRPs in 2017. Designated IRCC and Canada Border Service Agency officers typically issue TRPs to foreign nationals who don’t meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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El Taha’s oncologist and surgeon at the MUHC had written letters of support for his family’s application and an online Avaaz petition gathered close to 300 signatures.

“I’m extremely happy,” his immigration consultant Rami Alsaqqa told Global News. “I feel very satisfied that we didn’t abandon Taha. He once told me that at some point in the beginning he thought that he would be left to be forgotten and die.”

El Taha is expected to stay in hospital until Sunday, after which he will return home to recover at his St-Laurent apartment with his wife and children by his side.

“It’s very emotional and difficult,” El Taha said. “But I feel more confident now that my family is here with me.”

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