Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Canada may fast-track applications to come to Canada from people in the earthquake zones of Turkey and Syria.
Two major earthquakes rocked southwestern Turkey and northwestern Syria in a matter of hours on Monday, destroying thousands of buildings.
The confirmed death toll keeps rising, with more than 19,800 people killed and at least another 64,000 injured.
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Tens of thousands more are homeless in the middle of winter and struggling to access food, water and shelter.
Fraser said his department is trying to figure out the effect on permanent residency applicants already in Canada’s immigration system to determine how to help them.
“This is a conversation that we’re having,” he told reporters.
“We’re trying to understand what the impact is on the clients who are in the system.”
On Wednesday, Canada deployed a disaster assessment team to the region to determine what additional aid from Canada is needed.
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And a team of search-and-rescue experts from British Columbia that independently offered to help was expected to begin on-the-ground work in the early hours of Thursday local time.
With time running out to recover more people from the rubble, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is pressing the international community to provide money for Turkey and Syria and work on physical access for aid to earthquake-stricken parts of Syria.
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Canada announced on Tuesday that it was providing $10 million in humanitarian assistance.
On Wednesday, the government said it would also match up to $10 million in donations to the Canadian Red Cross earmarked for earthquake relief between Feb. 6 and 22.
Some groups, including the Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations, have urged Ottawa to do much more than it has so far.
But on Thursday, hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive, more than three days into the crisis.
The deaths reported so far have surpassed the toll from a 2011 earthquake off Fukushima, Japan, that triggered a tsunami, killing more than 18,400.
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