US & Canada

Canada military builds refugee camp for refugees from US

Refugees cross at Roxham Road in Quebec Image copyright AFP

The Canadian military is building a camp to house the growing number of refugees crossing the US border, officials have said.

The camp would house up to 500 asylum seekers in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, near Plattsburgh, New York.

The construction begins about a week after Montreal turned its Olympic Stadium into a shelter for refugees arriving from the US.

More than 3,300 people crossed into Quebec between 1 January and 30 June.

The military-built camp would house hundreds of asylum seekers in heated tents fitted with flooring and electricity while they wait for their refugee applications to be processed, said a statement from the military.

Patrick Lefort, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation there was currently a backlog of asylum seekers at Roxham Road, a popular crossing point near Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

It will take about two or three days for Canada Border Services to process the 700 asylum applications. In the meantime, there is no place for them to stay.

Francine Dupuis, of Praida, a provincial programme for the reception and integration of asylum seekers, told the BBC that another 1,200 people crossed into the province in July, about 90% of them from Haiti.

In May, Donald Trump announced that the US would end the programme that extended temporary protection to Haitian citizens after the devastating 2010 earthquake. That protection is due to expire in January 2018.

Since then, many asylum seekers have tried to get refugee status in Quebec, a French-speaking province.

No such protection exists in Canada, where the assessment is done case-by-case.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Montreal's Olympic Stadium

Haiti sent two government officials to meet the Quebec government on Tuesday, to discuss the situation.

Montreal's Olympic Stadium is being used as a shelter during August, and the city also plans to use the decommissioned Royal Victoria Hospital as a 320-bed facility.

School-aged refugees will be enrolled at Montreal's French-language school board beginning next month.

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