Canada prioritizing visas for victims of the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria last month, as hundreds of thousands have been left homeless.
More than 3,000 people from Turkey and Syria have entered the country since the Feb. 6 earthquakes, according to data shared by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) with Global News this week.
It is not clear whether everyone who arrived between February 6 and 26 was directly affected by the earthquakes.
As of Sunday, a total of 2,220 travelers from Turkey and 881 from neighboring Syria had arrived in Canada, CBSA statistics showed.
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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it “prioritises affected individuals for temporary resident, permanent resident and refugee applications.”
“We are monitoring the situation and will adjust our approach accordingly,” an IRCC spokesperson told Global News in an email.
As of February 8, there were close to 16,000 applicants – under review or completed – in Turkey and Syria, IRCC said.
Of these, approximately 1,700 applicants for permanent and temporary residence permits were within the zone affected by the earthquakes.
The earthquake in Turkey had “no impact or delay on application processing,” the agency confirmed.
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It has been more than three weeks since a pair of massive earthquakes, hours apart, shook Turkey and Syria, killing more than 50,000 people and injuring many more.
Tens of thousands are still missing in the region, according to the UN.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to rebuild the houses within a year, but it will be many months before thousands can exchange tents or containers and queue for food handouts for permanent housing.
Since the February 6 tragedy, new earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks have rocked the region over the past three weeks.
Turkey and Syria were affected another strong earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on February 20and killed at least six people.
Another on Monday with a magnitude of 5.6 shook southeastern Turkey, killing one person and causing further damage.
Canada already has promised 50 million dollars in humanitarian aid and matching donations to help earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.
“Having faced one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit the region, it is our duty as a government to ensure that Canada is there to provide much-needed assistance to the people of Turkey and Syria,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said in a press release. a statement on Friday.
“We will continue to stand with the people of Türkiye and Syria during this difficult time and will provide emergency assistance to help the two countries recover.”
Governments and humanitarian organizations around the world are helping with relief efforts, with rescue teams and emergency aid being sent to the region.
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Individual Canadians can also help by donating.
The The Canadian government has a website dedicated to helping people spot charity fraud. Canada Revenue Agency has a registered charity database which can be used to ensure that your donation goes to the right charity.
Here are some reliable organizations that are currently raising money to help in Turkey and Syria:
— with files from Global News Rachel Gilmore, Reuters and The Associated Press
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