The Trudeau government is currently considering “several options” to evacuate the approximately 230 Canadians who are still requesting assistance from Global Affairs Canada in Sudan, despite an end to air evacuations announced Saturday evening at Wadi Seidna airport, north of Sudan. Khartoum.
Defense Minister Anita Anand cautiously detailed that on Sunday, confirming that 200 people were evacuated from Sudan on Saturday in two separate Canadian Armed Forces evacuation flights. Of these, approximately 60 of these individuals were Canadian.
As of Saturday evening, however, Ottawa had confirmed that it would end these flights because of the context that was too risky for its pilots, employees and nationals. “Government of Canada evacuation flights have ended. Avoid traveling to Wadi Seidna airfield due to deteriorating security conditions,” the federal government’s website can now read.
So far, six Canadian evacuation flights have taken place. In total, they evacuated nearly 550 people, 400 of whom were Canadian and permanent residents. On Friday, two flights had brought 221 people out of the country, including 68 Canadians and six permanent residents, but two others had also been canceled. A flight was notably turned back when the airport was closed following fire on a Turkish plane from the ground which damaged the aircraft and injured a crew member.
Because the conditions are “dangerous”, the Canadian government therefore calls on anyone wishing to return to the country to no longer go to Wadi Seidna airport. Other evacuation options, in particular by sea from Port-Sudan, will henceforth be prioritised. Many Canadian government activities have been relocated there.
“We have different options available to us at the moment, especially with our ships or even with commercial ships. We are constantly working with our allies as well, to find other ways to leave the country. […] This network of friends and partners is essential in this kind of situation,” Ms. Anand said.
It also reiterates that the project of the United States, which set up a bus convoy to get out of the country about 300 of its nationals trapped in Sudan on Friday, could be used by Ottawa to evacuate Canadians. To date, the Canadian government says it has evacuated about 140 Americans on its planes.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will spend the next few days in Kenya, East Africa, to orchestrate Canada’s response to the crisis in Sudan. In particular, she must meet there people who have been evacuated from the country plunged into fighting for 16 days, as well as diplomatic personnel who worked there until the start of the clashes.
Ms. Joly is also expected to speak with humanitarian groups to better understand the needs of people in Sudan, as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries, during this time of crisis. She also plans to meet former Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, the country’s only civilian leader in decades, who was overthrown in a 2021 coup.
Kenya has played a leading role in the search for a solution to the conflict in Sudan and is home to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a group focused on peace and prosperity in East African countries. According to her office, Minister Joly hopes to learn more about Kenya’s role as a major player on the African continent.
The Sudanese armed forces and paramilitary groups were originally supposed to merge, but talks broke down last month and created an all-out conflict that has claimed hundreds of civilian lives in the past two weeks. The Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, was moved to Nairobi, Kenya when fighting broke out.
On Saturday, Minister Anand had already announced that Canada was exploring its options for conducting sea and land evacuations. Two Canadian naval vessels have just been ordered to stay close to Sudan, “in case they become useful for evacuation efforts.”