Faced with a flood of asylum seekers traveling from the United States into Quebec, Canada, local authorities have repurposed Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and turned it into a refugee welcome center.
A spokesperson for PRAIDA, the local government agency that helps refugees, tells the CBC more than 1,000 asylum seekers crossed the border into Quebec last month. “In comparison, PRAIDA helped 180 people in July 2016,” the CBC writes.
The vast majority of the asylum seekers are Haitians who initially fled the devastating earthquake in 2010, and whose future status in the U.S. is unclear under the Trump administration.
The surge of refugees overwhelmed the YMCA facilities that are normally used to temporarily house new arrivals.
So the agency turned to the Olympic Stadium — specifically, to the area by the concession stands, the CBC says.
The first refugees to stay at the stadium were bused in on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports.
“Volunteers from the Quebec Red Cross helped set up the cavernous, concrete stadium for a temporary stay with cots and food in the rotunda,” the wire service writes. “The stadium was the main venue of the 1976 Olympics. It has not had a main tenant since the Montreal Expos left in 2004.”
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SOURCE: NPR, Camila Domonoske