(Ottawa) Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has said Canada has no way to evacuate its nationals from Sudan, where violence has escalated dramatically between the country’s military and its rival paramilitary force. .
“The airport is currently inaccessible; the streets are not safe. The situation is therefore extremely serious,” Ms. Joly said in an interview on Thursday.
“It is not possible at this time to carry out any evacuation. What we’re telling Canadians is to shelter in place.”
The streets of the capital Khartoum were generally calm a week ago, but a row over a planned transition to democratic rule escalated into fierce battles between the two groups last Saturday.
“It is important that we can know who is present in the country,” Ms. Joly explained.
The Minister clarified that all Canadian diplomats and hired local staff have been identified and are trying to offer their services while working remotely.
“It’s a difficult situation we are operating in, but we are there,” she said, adding that the Canadian embassy is in an area that is currently part of active fighting.
Sudan’s military ruled out any negotiations with Sudanese paramilitary forces on Thursday, raising the likelihood of a renewed escalation in violence that has lasted nearly a week and has killed hundreds and pushed the Sudanese population to the limit of its resources.
Scores of people tried to flee Khartoum during a brief ceasefire, the second this week, which gave way to fresh fighting.
At least 330 people have been killed and 3,300 injured since fighting began on Saturday, according to the United Nations World Health Organization, but the toll is likely higher as many bodies are not recovered from the streets.
Biden administration officials said the US military was moving assets to a base in the Horn of Africa country Djibouti for the possible evacuation of diplomats. Japan plans to send military planes to Djibouti and the Netherlands has sent its own to Jordan.
Ms. Joly declined to elaborate on the contingencies Canada is considering.
“We are constantly assessing the situation and working with countries, partners and allies because we are all in the same situation,” she said.
Joly said she discussed the situation on Tuesday with the other G7 foreign ministers in Japan. She plans to meet soon with her counterparts in the African Union as well as neighboring countries such as Egypt and Djibouti on the subject of citizen protection and de-escalation.
Residents of Khartoum lack food and water. The alert was raised that the country’s medical system was on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals forced to close and others running out of supplies.
Canada’s travel advisory warns that Sudan’s telecommunications networks could collapse without warning.
“The security situation is very unstable. There are reports of theft from private homes. There are also reports of attacks and sexual assaults, including rape. Foreigners and personnel of international organizations have been targeted,” read an update from Thursday.
Bob Rae, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said the sudden deterioration of the situation in Sudan was “a lesson for all of us” about the issues that breed insecurity and conflict.
“No one should be amazed or indifferent. And that means countries like Canada need to be better prepared,” Rae wrote on Twitter.
According to Ms. Joly, the increase in the number of conflicts in the world requires that Ottawa reinforce its foreign service, in order to provide Canadians with consular assistance and to try to find peace.
“There is a rise in instability, and that is why we must continue to invest in our diplomacy to be present everywhere in the world,” Ms. Joly underlined.
“We have to make sure we are there to prevent conflict. And also, when conflict arises, to defuse escalation.”