(OTTAWA) The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) made two flights Thursday morning to evacuate Canadian nationals from Sudan. The situation remains volatile and could escalate quickly, a senior officer said during a briefing on Thursday.
“We will continue evacuations as long as we can support Global Affairs Canada,” said Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, who heads Canadian Joint Operations Command. That said, it is a very precarious situation on the ground. »
A total of 118 people have landed in Djibouti and will then travel to Nairobi, Kenya, with assistance from the federal government. Of this number, there are 44 Canadian citizens, including eight permanent residents. The other passengers were Sudanese employees of the embassy in Khartoum and Japanese, American and British nationals.
The Sudanese capital Khartoum was the scene of new bombardments on the 13th day of the conflict between the army and paramilitaries despite the truce. Hundreds of deaths have been counted since April 15. Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces agreed to extend the three-day ceasefire by 72 hours, which expired Thursday at midnight local time.
This extension would allow for further evacuations, according to Vice-Admiral Auchterlonie. However, he fears that the 72-hour ceasefire, which has been in effect since Monday, has allowed both sides to refuel and regain strength, which could lead to an upsurge in fighting.
“The situation is extremely dangerous in Sudan,” National Defense Minister Anita Anand said.
In addition to two CC-130 Hercules aircraft that can carry 100 personnel each, the CAF also has a C-17 Globemaster in the Sudan region. Two ships, HMCS Montreal and MV Asterix, are stationed near the city of Port Sudan and are ready to respond.
More than 200 Canadian military personnel are on the ground assisting in these evacuations, but Canada lags behind other countries in repatriation. More than 200 nationals were transported on Allied planes.
“We have been working with other countries since day 1 to find a place to do an airlift, to secure this place, to make sure that we will work together, defended Minister Mélanie Joly. This is why Germany, the United Kingdom, France have taken some of our nationals. We are also taking some of their nationals as we speak. »
She said the number of Canadians in Sudan registered with Global Affairs Canada fell to 1,700. This is a decrease of 100 from the previous day. Of this number, 581 people are affected by the conflict, said a senior ministry official. Among them, a hundred want to be evacuated for the moment.