Canadian Ambassador to Egypt Louis Dumas said this on Sunday in an interview with Vassy Kapelos, the show’s host Question time on CTV: “We were hoping the position would be open today, but that’s still not the case.”
The Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt was closed for the second day in a row after negotiations to keep it open to allow foreigners to leave failed. Dumas said Egypt sent its health minister and the governor of North Sinai to the Rafah border crossing in hopes of speeding up negotiations to allow civilians to pass through.
“So far the problem has not been resolved,” Mr. Dumas said.
Global Affairs Canada previously told Canadians they could have left the war-torn Gaza Strip “as early as Sunday.”
“We had hoped, based on all the indications we had received, that 200 Canadians would be able to cross the border on Sunday – 216 the next day – but disagreements arose between Hamas, Egypt and Israel over who would cross the border “He said he explained. “Since the border has been out of operation since then, no one has been able to cross it.”
Canadians are not the only foreign nationals unable to leave Gaza because of the fighting sparked by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 civilians and took more than 200 hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Israel responded by continuing its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip with the aim of destroying Hamas, according to the Israel Defense Forces. According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, thousands of civilians died in the line of fire.
“There are many, many countries waiting for their nationals to arrive,” Mr. Dumas explained. “There are almost 60 countries. If we look back to the Saturday before the blockade, around 50% of these 60 countries managed to get some of their nationals through.”
Mr. Dumas added that Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Romania are among the countries that “have not yet managed to get their nationals through.”
Global Affairs Canada said in an update on Saturday that 453 Canadians were registered in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as 5,755 Canadians in Israel and 18,028 Canadians in Lebanon. They said they had been in contact with “69 permanent Canadians and their family members in the West Bank, 516 in Gaza and 51 in Israel” since the last update.
Seven Canadians have been confirmed dead in Israel, while two others remain missing.
Global Affairs Canada said Egypt would allow anyone who made the crossing to stay in the country for up to 72 hours and that consular officers would be available to help Canadians get to Cairo and onward to Canada. The Canadian government said it will also provide accommodation, food and basic necessities to Canadians traveling through Egypt.
-A text by Matthew Talbot and Mitchell Consky for CTV News-
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