A Canadian effort is underway to conduct airlifts out of Sudan and two military vessels have arrived off its coast, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, as violence in the region continues for a second week.
Trudeau said the federal government is co-ordinating with its allies to evacuate Canadian citizens from Sudan, where fighting between the military and a rival paramilitary group erupted in the East African country earlier this month, with hundreds killed and thousands more injured.
“It’s an extremely difficult situation,” Trudeau said. “There’s very limited places where those airlifts can happen from.”
One Canadian in Sudan, 29-year-old Waddaha Medani, said she made the trip to an airbase on the outskirts of the battle-torn capital of Khartoum Tuesday morning after she learned of an apparent evacuation flight.
She told The Canadian Press in messages exchanged Tuesday that she boarded a German plane set to depart for Jordan, where she was told she would then be able to get on a flight home to Ottawa.
Trudeau had said on Monday that 58 Canadians had already left the country on a German flight and that a C-17 transport plane was in the region.
On Tuesday morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said that 100 Canadians have now made it out of Sudan.
She thanked Germany, France, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for “helping evacuate” the Canadians.
Joly said those who have now left the country were among 1,700 Canadians registered with the government and being contacted by federal authorities.
Of that number, 550 people have asked for assistance, she said.
The federal government is also providing information for people who are attempting 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.
Canada continued to call for the observance of a 72-hour ceasefire agreement announced Monday night.
Defence Minister Anita Anand said the government is trying to help anyone who is requesting assistance but called the situation “extremely volatile and extremely intense.”
Trudeau also said he spoke with the chairperson of the African Union to offer Canada’s support.