CJPME welcomes Gaza family reunification measures

Montreal, December 21, 2023Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes today’s announcement of new special immigration measures that will allow some Palestinian Canadians to reunite with their loved ones in Gaza. According to Immigration Minister Marc Miller, Canada will offer 3-year temporary residence to the extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, among other measures. CJPME is thrilled for the families who will benefit from this overdue policy, but continues to urge Canada to press for an immediate ceasefire to protect the two million Palestinians who remain unable to leave for safety.

“Israel has turned Gaza into hell on earth. These temporary immigration measures promise huge relief for Canadians whose loved ones have spent over two months trapped in unimaginable conditions,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “We are elated that many families now have a greater chance of being united with their loved ones, without being separated due to arbitrary restrictions. But nobody deserves to live in the conditions that Israel has created. We must end this nightmare for all the people of Gaza who have no chance to leave, by ending the war, ending the siege, and allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes,” added Bueckert.

CJPME notes that it is not clear how many people will be excluded from this program: it does not apply to others in Canada who are not yet citizens or permanent residents, and there are questions around eligibility requirements and the logistics of security vetting. Moreover, Minister Miller emphasized that Canada cannot guarantee safe passage from Gaza, nor does it determine who can leave through the Rafah crossing. Israel’s military offensive and siege therefore continue to pose a grave threat even to those who would theoretically benefit from these measures.

CJPME laments that these special immigration measures are too late for many Canadians whose family members have been killed in Gaza since the war began. Israel has killed at least 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7, and the starvation and disease caused by Israel’s siege significantly threaten the lives of the population. CJPME emphasizes that evacuation is not an alternative to pushing for a ceasefire, and insists that efforts must be taken to prevent the mass forcible displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Gaza.