Sudan fighting: 375 Canadians brought out, officials say
More than 375 Canadians had been flown in from Sudan as of Friday, with at least one evacuation flight planned for Saturday as fighting continues in the northeast African country.
Federal officials at the Immigration and Defense Service provided an update Saturday morning on efforts to force Canadians out of the country. In Canada, clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Relief Force, a powerful paramilitary force, have so far killed more than 400 of her civilians.
The number of Canadians who fled Sudan includes those who left the country on allied aircraft.
Defense Minister Anita Anand confirmed at a virtual press conference that two flights carrying about 221 people, including 68 Canadians and six permanent residents, left Sudan on Friday.
On Thursday, two CC-130 Hercules aircraft carried 117 people to Djibouti, including 42 Canadians.
“The window of opportunity at the airfield is closing,” said Anand, as the fighting drew closer to Wadi Saydna Air Base in Khartoum.
She said the Canadian military has 200 members deployed, with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations all in the region.
HMCS Montreal and MV Asterix, Canadian deployed frigates and naval supply force motor ships Indo-Pacific in Marchinstead, is tasked with staying in the Sudan port area if needed, Anand said.
More than 300 Canadians had sought assistance as of Friday, and citizens still in the country were asked to register with Global Affairs Canada.
“This is precarious, precarious and dangerous. That’s why we are considering all options and helping Canadians with their current needs as best we can,” she said.
A mechanical problem with the ramp delayed the first Canadian flight scheduled for Friday, and the second flight was turned back after a Turkish plane was shot and a crew member was injured.
Anand said neither side in the fighting claimed responsibility for the shooting, but that two Canadian flights were able to leave the airport.
Meanwhile, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser said as of Sunday, Canadian citizens of Sudanese Apply for free Extend your stay or change your status as a visitor, student or temporary worker.
The federal government also waives the requirement to hold passports or travel documents for permanent visa approval given that some people may not have access to Sudanese travel documents.
Passport and travel document fees for Canadians and permanent residents of Sudan have also been waived, and the federal government has said it is prioritizing temporary and permanent residency applications from Sudanese people.
On Wednesday, the Canadian Border Services Agency said: Sudan Transfers to Sudan.
Known as the Administrative Deferment of Movement, the CBSA issues temporary suspensions to countries deemed unsafe. However, he said the CBSA does not apply to those who are barred from entering the country for reasons such as crime, human rights violations and security.
Uses files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press