Trudeau says Canada will fly from Sudan



A Canadian effort to conduct airlifts out of Sudan is underway and two military ships have washed up on its shores, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, as the government sought a tenuous ceasefire to aid evacuation efforts in the beleaguered East African country.


Trudeau said the federal government is coordinating with allies to get Canadians out of Sudan, where fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary group broke out earlier this month, killing hundreds and wounding thousands more.


“It’s an extremely difficult situation,” Trudeau said. “There are very limited places from where those airlifts can happen.”


A Canadian in Sudan, Waddaha Medani, 29, said she made the trip to an airbase on the outskirts of the battle-torn capital Khartoum on Tuesday morning after learning of an apparent evacuation flight.


She told The Canadian Press in messages exchanged Tuesday that she boarded a German plane for Jordan, where she was told she could then fly back to Ottawa.


Trudeau had said on Monday that 58 Canadians had left the country on a German flight and that a C-17 transport plane was in the region.


On Tuesday morning, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said that 100 Canadians had already left Sudan.


He thanked Germany, France, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for “helping to evacuate” the Canadians.


Joly said they were among 1,703 Canadians registered with the government and were being contacted by federal authorities. Of that number, 573 people have requested assistance, he said.


The federal government is also providing information to people trying to leave the country on their own, Joly said, and safe passage for Canadians has already been negotiated with several other countries in the region, including Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt.


While saying the situation was “still fragile,” Joly said a three-day ceasefire announced Monday night was helping evacuation efforts.


“We are working to make sure we do our own evacuation of civilians, but we are not wasting time. And we are making sure that this happens as we speak,” he said.


But fighting continued, despite generals leading the Sudanese army and rival Rapid Support Forces pledging on Tuesday to respect the truce.


Explosions, gunshots and the roar of fighter jets were heard in the capital region on Tuesday.


Residents reported escalating fighting in West Darfur province, where the RSF has its roots, born out of Janjaweed militias accused of widespread atrocities in putting down a rebellion in the early 2000s.


A series of brief ceasefires over the past week have failed or caused only minor interruptions in battles that have been raging since April 15 between rival forces led by the country’s two top generals.


While the pauses have led to the evacuation of hundreds of foreigners, they have provided little relief to millions of Sudanese struggling to find food, shelter and medical care in a country where a third of its population of 46 million already needed humanitarian aid.


Civilians are among the at least 459 people killed and 4,070 wounded since the fighting began, the UN World Health Organization said, citing Sudan’s Health Ministry.


Trudeau said he spoke to the president of the African Union to offer Canada’s support.


Defense Minister Anita Anand said Canada is trying to help anyone requesting assistance, but called the situation “extremely volatile and extremely intense.”


 This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 25, 2023.

 With files from The Associated Press.



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