April 26, 2023 By Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — About 50 additional Canadians were evacuated out of Sudan in the last day, but even more have added their names to a list seeking help to flee, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Wednesday.
That means about 150 Canadians and permanent residents have now been helped to get out of the country after violence broke out last week between the East-African country’s army and paramilitary force.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week Canada had a C-17 military plane in the region to help airlift Canadians out but so far has relied on other countries to find space on their planes or boats.
Joly says roughly 1,800 Canadian citizens or permanent residents have now registered their presence in Sudan and 700 of those have asked to be helped out of the country.
On Tuesday Joly told Parliament 1,700 people had registered and 550 had asked for help.
She says Canada is also considering a request from Sudanese diaspora groups for relatives to be able to come to Canada on a temporary basis until the violence abates.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Wednesday the government called in some workers who were on strike with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, declaring them essential workers in order to help process immigration paperwork for people in Sudan.
“In times of crisis, Canada’s always there to help, and that’s why we’ll be there,” Joly told reporters on Parliament Hill.
She noted that Canada is including dual nationals and permanent residents of Canada, as well as foreigners who are their spouses and dependants such as children and grandchildren.
Fraser noted Canada is already fast-tracking applications Sudanese citizens had filed for visitor visas before the violence started, and is waving some fees such as for Canadians with expired passports.
“We see what’s going on and are trying to adopt policies that reflect the gravity of the situation on the ground,” he told reporters.
“We’ve actually had some staff return from the public service strike who are deemed essential to help those whose lives may be at risk, which is essential.”
Defence Minister Anita Anand would not say whether Canada will send special-forces soldiers into Sudan, as other countries have done.
“We’re working very closely with our allies to ensure that we have a secure and targeted approach to get Canadians out,” Anand said in response to questions from reporters.
She also did not say when Canada would start flying out people on its own planes.
“We have personnel and capabilities in the region, including two ships in the waters just off the coast,” Anand said, referring to the Red Sea.
“We’ll continue to do whatever possible, together with our allies and with our own capabilities, to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.”