Canada working to rescue 250 more Canadians from Gaza: ambassador



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Lou Duma is Canada’s ambassador to Egypt he is in Cairo Ambassador welcome back to the show thank you for having me uh I I’m sure you’ve seen the statement from Israel’s prime minister criticizing our prime minister for the comments he made yesterday with prime minister Netanyahu insisting Israel does everything to keep

Civilians out of harm Harm’s Way and that it’s hamas’s fault so many people are dying because civilians are being used as human Shields what is your sense on on Israel’s claim that it is doing everything it can to keep civilians out of Harm’s Way is that what the people

Are telling you as they come out of Gaza it’s a it’s an extremely complex conflict I mean we have to acknowledge that it’s Dee rooted it’s a a lot of emotions involved in this um I think there’s also a lot of finger pointing on

Both sides but I think if you if we can take a step back as a you know as a country in Canada is a well respected Ally in the region I think it’s time for a bit of humanity and the uh in our reflection about this this

Conflict we see people suffering on both sides we see atrocities on both sides I think you know it times to take a would say a pause and as we have been advocating for humanitarian pauses I think it’s time to have a pause and and just reflect about the whole thing you

Deal with Israel in your efforts to get Canadians and and their families and permanent residents out of Gaza they play a key role in vetting the lists of foreign Nationals that would be allowed to leave any concerns that this um flare up between the two prime ministers with Mr Netanyahu criticizing Mr Trudeau

Could could affect those operations not necessarily I think you know it’s like having a good friend and uh disagreeing on different matters I think there’s great respect still between you know the two countries and certainly looking at it here from Egypt I think Canada is a respected partner in

In the region so at the end of the day I mean as you point out it’s Israel and Egypt that control the uh the attribution of spots you know of names on the list and while it’s not in our control I mean we do everything in in

Our zone of influence to make sure that more Canadians are on the list we still have 250 uh people Canadians permanent residents and family members to bring from G Gaza into Egypt and we’re totally committed at making sure they come home there there was no Canadians on the list

Now today I think it’s been a couple of days or you did have that one very successful day when you got more than 200 people out in one day why no Canadians on the list right now what’s the reason for that well we had two Canadians today so

There’s a few individuals who were on previous list that did manage to come through today so we had two today so in total we have uh received welcomed 356 Canadian permanent residents and family members to to Egypt as I said there’s approximately 200 50 to go I think we

Have to acknowledge as well there’s a number of countries you know vying for a favorable position to get on the list approximately 60 countries at the beginning of the operation there was about 7,500 for Nationals so the fact that we’ve managed to get approximately 60% of uh you know the total Canadians

You know from Gaza into Egypt I think it’s very reassuring so as I said you know we’re committed to bring each and every of those individuals to Canada and this is my commitment here from KY so so do you have a sensor on on when the next

Big group of Canadians or a more regular departure of Canadians uh might begin because there should say about 250 people so still a sizable cohort in there that’s correct we don’t have a a sense of when at this point but we work very closely with the Israeli authorities the Canadian embassy in Tel

Aviv is extremely active our office in rala as well is also involved in the negotiations I mean here in Egypt we talk on the almost hourly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we try to influence as much as possible but in preparation for that you know we have a

Team in Rafa at the moment waiting patiently for Canadians to arrive working with other nations you know as soon as we have individual Crossing we can send them to to Cairo and onwards hopefully to to Canada there’s been some frust ation and criticism from families that it’s taken

So long uh understandably their their emotions are are running High because of this a lot of them are blaming Canada uh for the delays why why has it taken so long I mean obviously it’s a complex thing with a lot of competing interests what has been the biggest issue do you

Think in terms of getting all the Canadians spots on that list so they can get out well we have to recognize first and foremost that we’re dealing with a zone of extreme conflict uh a place where bomb explode where shots are fired it is extremely extremely difficult to get

These individuals out of uh out of Gaza I think you know there was no U I would say lack of effort on the part of Canada it is a complex situation but let me assure you as soon as we could you know have influence on the matter and bring

As I said Canadians permanent residents and family members out of Gaza into Egypt so we can allow them to you know move on with their lives find a bit of peace and and possibly you know start you know their life again in Canada we did so and I have to recognize as I’ve

Mentioned before you mean the efforts done by our embassies you know in the region you know our offices in the region the folks in Canada who’ve been working 247 on this issue I think you know to say that uh Canada has uh has uh been lagging behind I would I would take

It with a grain of salt to be frank with you I think you know we’ve done everything we can and we’re still committed looking ahead we’re still committed at bringing the remaining 250 individuals from Gaza into Egypt I I I’ve spoken with some people here uh in Canada who are working on this

Particular operation and they tell me that there have been dozens of people who’ve been offered a chance to get on the list to get out but because the family members they have in Gaza are unable to leave because of their citizenship status they they’ve chosen

To stay even though they had a path to safety through Rafa into Egypt how how many Canadians or people potentially that Canada could have gotten on the list have opted to stay in Gaza for those reasons that number we don’t know it’s but one thing I can say however those

Are very difficult decisions um I can only imagine people having lives in Gaza um you know having to decide whether to leave family members behind having to make tough choices it is very difficult but from a Canadian persp perspective you know from the government of Canada’s

Perspective we have to offer them a path to safety we have to offer them a solution to uh continue their lives in a in the in a different context and uh but I know for a fact those are heartbreaking decisions when we talk to evacuees here in CYO people are really

Really are torn by by the decisions they have to make so we try to give them a comfort you know give them a space for reflection and help them you know as much as possible with the road ahead all all of the competing interests as we’ve discussed other countries trying to get

On the list limited access and entry points Julie Sunday who is the top bureaucrat working on this file your colleague she said this whole experience has been in her words profoundly frustrating is that how you’re feeling right now Ambassador I think you know I was at the interview when uh Madame Sunday said

That and I said it it’s been difficult frustrating is uh certainly an objective that could be used but I would say difficult because we have to remember that not only do we have to get people out of a zone of conflict then we have to take them from Rafa to Cairo on a

Road that takes usually about eight to 10 hours and uh through a zone that has been U where we have told Canadians not to go to for the past 10 years it’s a very dangerous area of Egypt and uh I have to command you know the Egyptian

Forces at securing the uh the corridor between Rafa and CYO but it’s very difficult I cannot and under underestimate you know the difficulties that we’re facing but I take great uh I would say great pride and and great satisfaction at having 356 of the 600 Canadian permanent residents and family

Members out of out of Gaza but still we still have work to be done still have 250 people to to bring out and we’re absolutely committed to that Lou Duma Canada’s ambassador to Egypt thank you for your time today sir thank you very much

Despite the flare-up between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Canada’s Ambassador to Egypt Louis Dumas remains optimistic that it will not affect his ability to get more than 250 Canadians out of Gaza.

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