Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press If two evacuation flights took place on Friday and another is scheduled for Saturday, Minister Anand acknowledged, during a press briefing, that other means will have to be studied to allow the repatriation of all Canadians stuck in Sudan.
As the window for air evacuations of Canadians stranded in Sudan is “shrinking”, with fighting closing in on major airports across the country, the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces are weighing their options to initiate sea and land extractions. /p>
At a press briefing held virtually on Saturday morning, National Defense Minister Anita Anand said about 375 Canadians have been evacuated from Sudan so far, but some 300 more citizens were waiting for help from Ottawa to get out of the fighting-torn East African country.
While two evacuation flights took place on Friday and another is scheduled for Saturday, Minister Anand acknowledged that other means will have to be explored to allow all Canadians stranded in the country to be repatriated.
< p>“The Canadian Armed Forces currently have two Hercules aircraft, one Globemaster aircraft and one Polaris aircraft to support the mission. […] As the situation continues to evolve, we are exploring our options for air, but also sea and land extractions,” she revealed.
The naval vessels HMCS Montreal and NM Asterix , who were due to travel to the Indo-Pacific on another mission, were therefore instead ordered to stay close to the country's largest port, Port Sudan, “in case they become useful for evacuation efforts”. .
Canada also intends to look at what its allies are doing regarding ground evacuations. Minister Anand cited the example of the United States, which set up a bus convoy to get around 300 of its nationals trapped in Sudan out of the country on Friday.
“This is part of the initiatives that we are monitoring, because we see that the window of opportunity at Wadi Seidna airport is rapidly deteriorating due to the fighting which is getting closer and closer,” the minister added.
“The situation is dynamic and forces us to make decisions that are in the best interests of Canadians and for their safety. This is exactly why we are looking at all our options and working with our allies for planning and risk assessment,” Ms. Anand said.
At least one more evacuation flight will take place on Saturday, according to the minister, since there are still Canadians who are at the airport waiting to flee the country. On Thursday, two flights organized by the Government of Canada with Hercules aircraft had 117 people on board, including 42 Canadians.
On Friday, two other flights carried 221 people out of the country, including 68 Canadians and six permanent residents, but two other flights were also cancelled. One flight was turned back when the airport was closed after a Turkish plane was fired upon from the ground, damaging the aircraft and injuring a crew member.
Other Canadians have also fled Sudan on flights organized by countries allied with Canada, Anand said.
Help for Sudanese already in Canada
At the same press briefing, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser , announced that people of Sudanese origin who are already in Canada will be able to extend their status to stay longer in the country starting Sunday, free of charge.
These people will also be able to change their status from visitor, student or temporary worker to obtain a work permit free of charge.
“These measures will help protect the safety of the Sudanese community in Canada. and to help families stay together in a safe place in Canada,” Fraser said.
Furthermore, the Department of Immigration will not require Sudanese to hold passports or travel document when they apply for a permanent resident visa to come to Canada.
The fighting continues
On Saturday, despite the ceasefire which was extended on Friday for another 72 hours in Sudan, gunfire and heavy artillery fire could still be heard in some areas of Khartoum, the country's capital.
The civilian death toll has also jumped to 411, according to the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, a group that monitors the number of casualties. Also according to this union, some 2,000 other civilians were injured during the clashes.
In total, 528 people are said to have lost their lives in the fighting and 4,500 who were injured, according to data from the Sudanese Ministry of Health.
For 15 days now, the fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group, have also left entire neighborhoods of Khartoum without electricity or running water. Citizens sheltering in their homes are starting to run out of food, as thousands attempt to flee the country as quickly as possible.
Over 50,000 refugees — mostly women and children — have managed to travel to Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, according to the United Nations.
For its part, Canada always recommends that its nationals trapped in Sudan contact Global Affairs Canada to determine the safest way to leave the country.
With Associated Press