Tim Sanborn of Cochrane, Alta., is one of hundreds of Canadians currently trapped in Sudan, where fighting between the country’s top generals has been raging for nearly a week, making flights out of the country impossible.
In a hotel in the capital, Khartoum, Sanborn says he’s on high alert.
“A bullet pierced the glass in the lobby this morning,” he told CBC on Thursday. “No one was hurt, but, you know, this is just a reminder of where you are.”
According to the World Health Organization, the death toll from the conflict has risen to 330, and about 3,200 people have been injured.
Sandborn, a father of two, traveled to Africa’s third largest country for his employer, which makes agricultural machinery and exports them around the world.
When the conflict broke out on Saturday, he was in a hotel near the city’s international airport that had been heavily bombed. Satellite images show the crashed planes strewn across the runway.
On Wednesday morning, his employer’s company moved him to another hotel in Khartoum that housed other Canadians. Sanborn says supplies at his old hotel were running low, such as water and diesel to power the generator.
While Sanborn says he feels safer with his fellow Canadians, he is “not entirely satisfied” with what he heard from Ottawa.
So far, the government has advised Canadians across the country to shelter in place. Sanborn said that people from other countries seem to be more familiar with their compatriots inside Sudan.
Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie told CBC News on Thursday that evacuating citizens and diplomatic staff from Khartoum is not currently an option due to security risks and fighting near the airport.
hour | The Minister of Foreign Affairs discusses the situation in Sudan
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) said nearly 1,500 Canadians have informed the government that they are in Sudan, adding that this number is likely an underestimate.
In a statement, the GAC said its embassy in Sudan is currently closed to the public, and that it is exploring all options to support staff on the ground.
Blake Richards, the Conservative MP, who represents the borough of Cochrane, said he was concerned about the situation in Sanborn.
“I urge Global Affairs Canada to take immediate action, and I will continue to work behind the scenes to ensure this. [Sanborn] “He can safely return home,” he said in a statement.
Sanborn has private evacuation insurance through his employer. He said that there is talk of escaping by land with a private company. However, this is not currently his preferred escape option.
“The preferred option is to fly in a government-flagged plane, and this is a humanitarian effort, not some sort of stealth night move,” he said.
The two leaders were former allies who orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that reversed the country’s transition to democracy. According to The New York Times, the two were close to reaching an agreement to defuse their feud just days before the fight began.
And while cease-fire attempts have so far failed, it is hoped that the Eid al-Fitr holiday will put a temporary end to the bloodshed.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the combatants to respect the three-day ceasefire, which coincided with the holidays, which start on Friday.
For Sanborn, it will all depend on how the two sides act after any holiday ceasefire announcement. He says he would hesitate to take an overland route out of the country, as he did not know how to get the troops out of the capital.
“I’m not that desperate yet,” he said.
The New York Times reports that the Pentagon is moving more troops to neighboring Djibouti in preparation for a possible evacuation of US embassy staff. However, US officials said it would be difficult to evacuate embassy staff, let alone the 19,000 US citizens believed to be in Sudan.