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Ottawa chartering 3 flights for Ukrainian refugees over next month

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Three flights carrying Ukrainian refugees are planned to arrive in Canada over the next month, Ottawa announced Wednesday.

The flights are as follows: May 23 to Winnipeg, May 29 to Montreal and June 2 to Halifax.

All three are federal charter flights and will be available to those approved through Canada’s emergency authorization program for Ukrainian refugees on a first-come, first-served basis. The flights will depart from Poland.

Read more: Flight logistics slowing Ukrainian refugee arrivals in Canada, Alghabra says

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The emergency authorization program allows the refugees to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years. More than 204,000 applications for the program have been submitted as of May 4, and close to 91,500 have been approved.

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“These charter flights will help make sure that those who want to come to Canada have the support they need,” Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser said in a statement.

So far, thousands of Ukrainians have arrived in Canada since Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24, but Fraser told reporters Wednesday that it is unclear how many more will come. He said many of the visa applicants are applying on a “speculative basis,” according to information on the ground. Canada has partnerships for up to 10,000 free flights for Ukrainian refugees.

Read more: 166 Ukrainian refugees set to arrive in Newfoundland on province-chartered flight

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said earlier in May that logistical issues have also slowed the arrival of the refugees in Canada, namely that many visa applicants do not stay in the same area as when they applied. Alghabra said it continues to take a lot of effort to locate the applicants and find where they are able to depart from.

A statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says Ukrainians who have received their visas will be emailed in the coming days with information on how to register for the upcoming three flights. Canada will provide temporary accommodations for up to 14 nights to those on the flights who do not already have accommodations.

Meanwhile, a charter flight organized by Newfoundland’s provincial government arrived on the island on Monday from Poland carrying 166 Ukrainian refugees.

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More than five million are estimated to have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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