Thousands of Palestinians applied for humanitarian visas, very few have been approved: report

As of April 24, 179 Palestinians have received humanitarian visas to enter Canada. To date, 7,739 applications have been filed, of which 1,421 were rejected. The demographic breakdown is not yet known, but it is believed most are men and boys.

Thousands of Palestinians applied for humanitarian visas, very few have been approved: report
AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
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Several dozen Palestinians from Gaza have received Canadian visas to date under a humanitarian program announced earlier this year. 

“As of April 24, 179 temporary resident visa applicants under the public policy have been issued visas to come to Canada,” reads an Inquiry Of Ministry from the Department of Immigration. “A total of 304 applicants have been submitted for review by the coordinator of government activities in the territories to exit Gaza.”

The demographic breakdown is not yet known, but it is believed that the majority of applicants are men and boys. 

The Inquiry said to date 7,739 applications have been filed, of which 1,421 were rejected. “Most web form rejections are as a result of missing information documents,” it said.

Applicants are required to be photographed and fingerprinted before departing for Canada, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. The onus is on Israeli authorities to conduct mandatory security checks in the war zone, according to Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

He earlier stressed the “extremely difficulty” for applicants to leave Gaza, noting for some it may not be possible.”

The Government of Canada has conveyed it will not conduct rescue missions in the Gaza Strip. That complicates matters further as the Department of Immigration cannot finalize applications until clients have exited Gaza, reads a separate Inquiry

“The Israelis have their say,” Miller told reporters on December 21. “They will screen people and decide whether they leave or don’t leave.”

Those who managed to leave Gaza were required to submit personal information to Israeli authorities including names, birth dates, gender, passport or national identification numbers and “location by district.”

They must then obtain their biometrics in Cairo, Egypt and submit documentation to enter Canada.

Minister Miller on March 20 expressed frustration with Ottawa giving too few Gazans humanitarian visas. “This is a program that we knew from the get-go could be a failure,” he said. “Up to now it is a failure and it’s something I think we need to realize.”

The Saskatoon Open Door Society referred to Israel’s treatment of Gazans as “inequitable and highly discriminatory.” Last week, they filed a Parliamentary petition for Canada to accept at least 10,000 displaced Palestinians.

Humanitarian Visa applications opened on January 9 with a quota of 1,000 displaced Palestinians, which Petition E-4959 deemed “unreasonable” and “inhumanely restrictive.”

New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan, who sponsored the petition, also required the latest Inquiry figures. She asked, “How many temporary resident visas have been issued to certain extended families affected by the crisis in Gaza since January 9?” 

“We are all failing Gazans at this point,” Miller earlier told reporters. “I think that is something we need to realize, that they are under – it’s probably the largest hostage taking right now in the world.”

“People in and around Rafah are very exposed to death, to starvation, to bombardment,” he said.

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