Canadians Begin Evacuation from Gaza via Rafah Crossing, Global Affairs Canada Coordinates Safe Passage

This image from Wednesday shows people hoping to enter Egypt from Gaza at the Rafah border crossing. Global Affairs Canada says Canadians can start leaving Gaza for Egypt early on Tuesday. (Fatima Shbair/The Associated Press)

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Canadians trapped in the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip received a glimmer of hope as Global Affairs Canada (GAC) confirmed the opening of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. This development offers them a long-awaited opportunity to escape the hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

According to information disclosed to CBC News by a Canadian in Gaza, an email from GAC outlined specific instructions for the evacuation. Canadians who had been anxiously waiting were urged to “arrive as early as possible” at the crossing, which is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. local time, or 2 a.m. Eastern Time.

The email stressed the importance of preparedness: “Please have your travel documents ready (passports, IDs, birth certificates, or any important documents) and your personal belongings.” It went on to assure that Canadian consular officials would be stationed on the Egyptian side to assist with the passage and coordinate transport to Cairo by bus.

Palestinians with dual nationality register to cross to Egypt on the Gaza Strip side of the border crossing in Rafah, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Adding to the logistical details, GAC noted that Egypt’s government would permit a stay of up to 72 hours for those crossing into its territory. In Cairo, Canadians will be provided with food, accommodation, and basic necessities, a significant relief amidst the chaos. For those concerned about finances, the possibility of emergency loans for travel was mentioned, offering solace to those in need.

In a conversation with Power & Politics’ host David Cochrane, Louis Dumas, Canada’s ambassador to Egypt, expressed relief and optimism regarding the reopening of the border crossing on Monday. “As you know, it was closed for a few days, but in the next few days, at the very least, we hope to see a full load of foreign nationals coming from Gaza into Egypt,” said Dumas, indicating a ray of hope for many.

Dumas assured that Canada is primed to receive its citizens, suggesting imminent arrivals within the ensuing days.

Gaza Experiences Communications Blackout Amid Growing Conflict and Potential Egypt Border Deal
People wait at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on on Wednesday. Egypt is preparing to treat wounded Palestinians from Gaza. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

The recent closures of the Rafah crossing have sparked frustration among Canadians with family ties to Gaza. CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live featured Samah Al-Sabbagh from London, Ontario, who shared her deep concern for her father’s well-being. “He’s not eating, not sleeping. He’s in fear,” Al-Sabbagh said, describing her 73-year-old father’s dire situation, his vacation turning into an ordeal amidst the conflict.

Al-Sabbagh’s words echo the sentiments of many, as she summed up the emotional toll the conflict has taken on her family: “It’s a very frustrating time.”

As the crossing reopens and the first group of Canadians prepare to embark on their journey home, their stories of fear, waiting, and frustration begin to give way to relief and the promise of safe return.