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Ottawa speeds up immigration process as Ukrainians try to escape conflict

Sean Fraser, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, speaks at a funding announcement in Chester, N.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.  (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)
Sean Fraser, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, speaks at a funding announcement in Chester, N.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)

Ottawa is expediting immigration applications from Ukrainians attempting to escape the conflict in their country, said Canada's minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship on Thursday.

Sean Fraser's comments came hours after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, with reports of explosions in the capital of Kyiv and roads gridlocked with residents trying to flee.

Fraser said his department has already approved more than 1,800 Ukrainian immigration applications on a priority basis.

"We will be looking to do more," said the MP for Central Nova, who was speaking at a funding announcement for long-term care in Chester, N.S.

Fraser added he spoke Wednesday evening with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress "to identify the right path forward, to make sure that we're meeting the needs of people who are seeking safety, who are currently seeking to leave Ukraine."

Fraser said his department has been working on a "suite of measures" in response to the anticipated invasion since Jan. 19, calling Russia's attack "the biggest threat to the global legal order since the end of the Second World War."

Ottawa has added more staff in Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest and provided mobile biometric units to expedite the processing of people looking to flee Ukraine, he said.

Fraser also said measures were being put in place to allow Ukrainians in Canada to extend their stay until it is safe to return home.

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