'A nightmare in Khartoum': Sudanese N.W.T.ers say Canada needs to step up relief efforts
With their families in Khartoum living in daily danger, N.W.T. residents who have connections to Sudan say they want the Canadian government to step up its efforts to help civilians trapped between two warring armies.
Muaz Hassan, a village councillor in Fort Simpson, called for Canada to open its doors for Sudanese refugees who can make it here, and bring in immigration measures similar to what it did for Ukraine.
"It's a matter of keeping people safe," he said.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and an opposing paramilitary force has been ongoing for several weeks. The two sides agreed Tuesday to a week-long ceasefire, though similar agreements in the past have failed to stop the violence.
Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people have been displaced from their homes, with many fleeing to nearby countries.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday that Canada has sent soldiers to Port Sudan to help any Canadians who make it there to escape.
Living in danger
Hassan said his family spent over a week trapped in a home near a hospital in Khartoum controlled by paramilitary forces. They eventually managed to flee to another house, but are still trapped in Khartoum.
Hassan and other Sudanese Canadians living in the N.W.T. say their families have no regular access to food, water or daily necessities. Leaving their home comes with a real risk of death, and they go about their days with the constant sound of gunfire in the background.
Some of his relatives have described bodies piled in the streets, left for days and making it difficult to travel the roads.
His uncle's house was razed to the ground and his cousin's vehicles were burned.
"He's been, for three days, trying to reach a safe place," Hassan said.
"In the meantime, I have my family — my dad, my mom, my siblings, my sisters and their families. They're all right now in one of our homes where they try at least to hide away from the flying bullets and bombarding."
Like Hassan, Abdalla Mohamed said he and other Sudanese Canadians he knows want to come together to push the Canadian government to help more.
Last week, Mohamed — who lives in Inuvik — said it had been days since he'd heard whether his family was still safe.
"It is a nightmare in Khartoum," he said — and a nightmare for him and his friends who wait each day for news of their families.
"We don't know what's happening. We just fear the unknown."
Mohamed said the roads aren't safe, making it difficult for Sudanese civilians to rally to stop the war.
"Right now, they're just living day by day and hoping that all these international communities come together and put pressure on both fighting parties to stop," he said.
"I'm sure the people of Sudan are capable of rebuilding Sudan and moving forward. The only thing they need is safety and democracy."