A German plane flew dozens of Canadians out of Sudan on Monday, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after the government said the US military evacuated Canadian diplomats “on very short notice” over the weekend.
Speaking during a photo opportunity with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ottawa, Trudeau added that the Canadian military aims to airlift more Canadians out of Sudan using C-17 transport aircraft that are in the area.
He said that he heard earlier Monday that a German plane took off from the capital, Khartoum, with 58 Canadians and Germans on board.
The Canadian Forces said late Monday that the situation in Sudan was “rapidly deteriorating” and that officials were examining “all possible options” to support Canadians in Sudan.
In the same joint statement, Global Canadian Affairs confirmed that Canadian diplomats were able to evacuate on a US military flight that evacuated their embassy officials from the capital on Sunday.
The statement read: “Canadian diplomats in Sudan will be part of the US military with the help of their departure at a very short notice as they were near the US Embassy. Canada is grateful to the US for its support.
The agency did not provide any details on Sunday about how the Canadian staff would be evacuated, only confirming that they would be working temporarily from a safe location outside the country.
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This comes hours after Secretary of State Melanie Jolie announced that Canada is working with “like-minded countries” to help citizens who remain in Sudan flee the country as the armed conflict there escalates.
She also tweeted that Ottawa was exploring “assisted leave” options to get Canadians stuck in Sudan out of the conflict-ridden country.
“Canadians in #Sudan: We are exploring options to assist with departure in collaboration with like-minded countries and the international community as soon as conditions allow,” Jolie said in a tweet Monday morning.
Global Affairs Canada later confirmed that assistance with the departure was ongoing and thanked allies and partners in the region for their support, but did not provide further details.
Global Affairs Canada is trying to contact all Canadians in Sudan who have registered with the government, and Jolie urged repeat calls to anyone who has not already done so to get in touch immediately. The agency said officials are in regular contact with affected Canadians.
The government said Monday night that there are currently 1,439 Canadians registered in Sudan. That’s down from the 1,596 reported on Sunday. Officials emphasized that these numbers are estimates because registration is voluntary.
Two rival generals have been vying for control of Africa’s third-largest country since April 15. The battles between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces left at least 420 people dead.
In addition, the conflict has left thousands of foreigners stranded, including diplomats and aid workers.
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Ottawa temporarily suspended diplomatic operations in Sudan on Sunday. Global Affairs Canada said the Canadian embassy in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, which effectively closed on April 17 but remained technically operational, will resume operations as soon as it is safe to do so.
Anyone requiring consular services is encouraged to contact the Government Control and Emergency Response Center in Ottawa.
“We are examining all possible options to support Canadians in Sudan,” Global Affairs Canada said Monday evening.
Global Affairs Canada’s Permanent Rapid Deployment Team (SRDT) was deployed to neighboring Djibouti late last week “to enhance our ability to provide support and assess needs on the ground.”
The Canadian government had already updated its travel advisory for Sudan on April 16, advising Canadians to avoid travel to the country.
Ottawa also announced measures on Monday to support Sudanese citizens in Canada who cannot return home. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said the government would waive fees for extending work and student visas.
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“Once these measures are in place, Sudanese nationals can apply to extend their status in Canada and move between temporary streams, allowing them to continue studying, working or visiting family for free,” said a statement from Fraser’s office.
Fraser said fees for passports and travel documents will also be waived for Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Sudan.
Later, the Canada Border Services Agency said it would suspend all work related to the deportation of Sudanese immigrants or nationals to Sudan.
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Besides Canada, many countries are rushing to expel their citizens and diplomatic staff from Sudan.
A German Air Force plane carrying 101 evacuees from Sudan landed in Berlin early on Monday. Sweden said all its embassy staff in Khartoum, their families and an unknown number of other Swedes had been evacuated to neighboring Djibouti.
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The country said Swedish aircraft and military personnel would continue to assist in the evacuation of foreign nationals as long as the security situation permitted.
Many evacuations by air. Others pass through Port Sudan on the Red Sea, about 650km northeast of Khartoum, but about 800km by road.
The Bundeswehr said the German air force had so far transported 311 people from an airport near Khartoum, and that the first batch was brought back to Berlin on Monday on an Airbus A321 from Azraq base in Jordan, which is used as an aircraft. evacuation center.
The Bundeswehr did not provide a breakdown of the number of evacuees who were German citizens or third-country nationals.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also confirmed on Twitter Sunday morning that the UK Armed Forces had “completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan”.
Fighting in Sudan has caused a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country, leaving millions of people without access to basic services. This comes four years after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.
The army and the Rapid Support Forces staged a joint coup in 2021, but they fell out during negotiations to merge the two groups and form a civilian government. The rivalry raised the risk of a broader conflict that could draw in outside powers.
– With files from Global News, Saba Aziz, Reuters and the Canadian Press