Canadian Citizens Await Approval at Rafah Crossing Amid Ongoing Conflict

Palestinians wait at the border crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt in Rafah, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Hatem Ali

In a developing situation, a significant number of Canadians, along with permanent residents and their eligible family members, find themselves in a state of uncertainty at the Rafah border crossing. Despite the successful crossing of 234 individuals from Gaza into Egypt on Sunday, recent updates indicate an absence of Canadians on the list for today’s crossing.

The General Authority for Crossings and Borders, responsible for managing the Rafah crossing, releases a daily roster of foreigners authorized for transit. This list, formulated in collaboration with the Egyptian and Israeli governments, did not include Canadians in its latest iteration, published on Sunday for Monday’s crossing. This development follows the inclusion of 266 Canadians on Friday’s list, suggesting that some of them have yet to complete their journey.

Palestinians with Canadian passports who were evacuated from Gaza sit in a bus at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt, late Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Tarek Wajeh)

This bottleneck occurs amidst the backdrop of a worsening conflict, now in its sixth week, which commenced on October 7th. The escalation began with an incursion by Hamas militants into Israel, resulting in approximately 1,200 fatalities and the abduction of around 240 individuals, who were subsequently taken back into Gaza. The Israeli response has been marked by daily air and land strikes, with the Hamas-run health authority reporting over 11,000 casualties within Gaza.

The Rafah border crossing, a critical juncture for those seeking to leave the Gaza Strip, reopened on Sunday following a two-day closure. The Egyptian government, in a humanitarian gesture, is allowing individuals who manage to cross the border to remain in the country for a period of up to 72 hours.

In response to these challenging circumstances, the Canadian Embassy in Egypt has been actively involved in providing assistance to those who have successfully crossed. Their efforts encompass arranging transportation to Cairo, alongside ensuring the provision of food and accommodation until travel plans are finalized.