Immigration Minister Marc Miller says he’s frustrated and “pissed off” that people related to Canadians are being blocked from leaving the embattled Gaza Strip.
Canada has submitted pre-approved list to Israel and Egypt, which control Rafah border crossingLaura Osman · The Canadian Press
· Posted: Feb 07, 2024 12:02 PM EST | Last Updated: 4 hours ago
Immigration minister angered by delays in getting people in Gaza outMarc Miller says Canada is hoping for a quick approval after presenting local authorities, including Egypt and Israel, with an initial list of people to evacuate from Gaza. ‘Perhaps there is trepidation by people on the ground to let these folks out, but it’s a humanitarian gesture,’ he said.
Canada’s immigration minister said Wednesday he is “pissed off” that people related to Canadians are being blocked from leaving the embattled Gaza Strip.
Ottawa started accepting applications last month to reunite as many as 1,000 people in the Palestinian territory with extended family members in Canada.
Canada provided an initial list of pre-approved people to Israel and Egypt, which jointly control the only border crossing out of Gaza.
“Perhaps there is some trepidation by people on the ground as to whether to let these folks out, but it’s humanitarian gesture and it’s immensely frustrating for me,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Parliament Hill.
Miller previously said he’s willing to be flexible on the number of people who can access the program.
But he said in the House of Commons on Tuesday that it is “very difficult” to expand the program if nobody can get across the border.
The minister said he is looking at diplomatic options and wants to explore them before he says more publicly.
“I don’t want to create a system that’s entertaining false hope, but I also don’t want to drop my arms and not try,” said Miller.
“It’s really frustrating, and obviously it’s a matter of life and death for the families in question.”
If people on the government’s list are able to make it across the border, they will still need to be screened before they are allowed to board a flight to Canada.
WATCH | A Canadian’s agonizing wait to get loved ones out of Gaza
A Canadian’s agonizing wait to get loved ones out of GazaA month after the federal government pledged to issue temporary visas for Gazans with Canadian relatives, families are still waiting. Including Maher Alanqar, who has had several family members die in the interim and is fighting to get the survivors to safety.
Miller’s office would not say when the list was provided to officials or how many names are on it.
The Gaza Strip has been under near-constant bombardment since the latest Israel-Hamas conflict began in early October, and humanitarian supplies have been severely limited.
Officials in the Hamas-controlled territory say more than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed in the past four months.
Israel declared war on Hamas after its militants stormed into the country on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking roughly 250 hostage.