Montreal Opens Olympic Stadium To Asylum Seekers From The US
Montreal has received so many asylum seekers from the United States in the first year of Donald Trump's presidency that they have been forced to open up parts of their Olympic Stadium as a refugee camp.
More than 4,000 people are thought to have crossed into Canada at unmanned or remote border points as a result of their fear that the American President will stage another crackdown on refugees from certain points of origin.
Canada has a treaty with the United States regarding asylum seekers that requires them to apply for asylum at whichever country they arrive in first - similar to the Dublin Agreement that was in place in the European Union - but now that has been circumvented by the number of people attempting to move north.
Asylum seekers arrive at the stadium. Credit: PA
Authorities in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, which are closest to the major population centres of the Eastern Seabord of the United States, have been particularly hit.
Up to 1,750 people are thought to have come over the border since the start of July and now the Quebec provincial government has begun bussing refugees from the border into Montreal.
Their destination has been the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 Olympic Games and now used for major sporting events, pop concerts and trade fairs.
The Olympic Stadium was converted into accommodation in just 24 hours, complete with cots, cooking facilities and showers. It is expected that the newly-arrived refugees will stay for a short period before being processed into the existing asylum system.
"We've never seen this before," said Francine Dupuis, who works for the government agency that deals with refugees in Quebec. "It's really quite a bit more intense than what we're used to."
Over 4,000 people are thought to entered Canada from the US. Credit: PA
The majority of those arriving are not from countries that are on Donald Trump's banned list - Syrians, Libyans, Iranians, Somalians, Yemenis and Sudanese - but instead from places like Haiti, where a change in legislation proposed by Trump may soon result in thousands of refugees being deported.
Haitians are thought to prefer moving to Quebec because of Montreal's existing Haitian community and the fact that the city is predominantly French-speaking.
"The city of Montreal welcomes the Haitian refugees, you can count on our full cooperation." said Mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre on Twitter ,in French and Haitian Creole.
Featured Image Credit: PA