The families of Canadian victims who were killed when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet will receive $25,000 to handle immediate needs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Jan. 16.
Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa on Friday morning that he had been in direct conversations with the families of the victims about the “needs they are facing” and that the government will be providing the financial support within the coming days.
“As a first step, the government will give families of the victims who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents $25,000 per victim to assist with their immediate needs such as funeral arrangements and travel,” he said.
“This is a unique and unprecedented situation because of the international sanctions placed on Iran and the difficulties that that imposes on these families.”
Trudeau’s government has said that 57 of the 176 people aboard the flight were Canadian and 29 were permanent residents.
However, the Prime Minister said that while the government will be providing the initial funds, they will continue to put pressure on Iran to provide full compensation for shooting down the civilian jet.
“I want to be clear: We expect Iran to compensate these families. But I have met them[the families]. They can’t wait weeks. They need support now,” he said. “Canada continues to call for a thorough and credible investigation into last weeks tragedy.”
Trudeau added that his government has not yet specified an exact figure in terms of how much compensation it hopes Iran will pay but assured that any money paid by the Islamic Republic would go straight to the families of the victims.
“We haven’t looked at what the full compensation would end up looking like from Iran but I can assure you that any money from Iran to the victims would go straight to them—it wouldn’t be to reimburse the Canadian government.”
He said the Canadian government would also expedite visas and waive fees to make it easier for families to travel and are providing legal support to the families of victims.
All 176 people on board Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 were killed when Iran’s air defense fired two anti-aircraft missiles and shot down the Ukrainian airliner just after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan. 8.
Those killed included 11 Ukrainians, 57 Canadians (including many Iranians with dual citizenship), 17 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and four Britons.
Iran initially said the crash was caused by a mechanical failure but admitted shortly after that its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard shot down the plane by accident, triggering another wave of widespread protests in Tehran and elsewhere.
The plane was shot down as Iran was on high alert for possible retaliatory action just hours after it launched missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops in revenge for the U.S. killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack in Baghdad on Jan. 3.