Cochranite Tim Sanborn and about 1,499 other Canadians stranded in Sudan are anxious to hear the federal government's plan for their evacuation from the military power struggle that broke out on Apr. 15.
As of yet, little information has been shared by the Canadian government, nor have the Canadians been advised of any plans for their evacuation.
He says other countries are well into their preparations to extract their citizens when it is safe to do so.
In a phone interview this afternoon with Cochrane Now, Sanborn says India, for one, already has an evacuation plan ready to go, and has established a WhatsApp connection to allow their citizens to directly communicate with their government.
"India has three planes at the ready, and as soon as it's safe, they're coming to get them out," said Sanborn. "They have about 2,200 Indian citizens in Khartoum or in Sudan, I'm assuming mostly in Khartoum, and that's not many more than Canada has, but they have a plan. Trust me, when you're in this [situation] here, you need a little bit of something to cling to."
He's been in touch with Canada's foreign affairs representatives by email and phone but the information provided was of little value.
"They offered very obvious and vague advice, which is to have a shelter in place and don't travel to Sudan. Well, that part's too late."
Sanborn, his family, and friends have been reaching out to Canadian officials stressing the need for action.
Today, foreign affairs minister Mélanie Joly stated evacuating citizens and diplomatic staff from Sudan is "impossible" right now due to security risks in the capital Khartoum and they are assessing the situation.
Banff-Airdrie Blake Richard says he is very concerned about the plight of Sanborn and the other Canadians.
"I am urging Global Affairs Canada to take immediate action, and will continue to work behind the scenes to make sure that Tim is able to come home safely,” he said in a written statement.
Sanborn was only two days away from returning home from his business trip when the war broke out right outside his 10th-floor room in a hotel one kilometre from the Khartoum International Airport.
He arrived in Sudan on Apr. 1, spending most of his time 500-plus kilometres away from the nation's capital. He works for a company that supplies agricultural equipment that they install and commission internationally.
He returned to Khartoum last Friday and awoke the next morning to war being waged. Shrapnel was flying by his hotel window and there was heavy fighting at the airport, which was destroyed.
"I had a bird's eye to some pretty heavy action for five days of constant warfare."
Late yesterday morning, a customer company offered to move him to the Al Salam Hotel, which so far has been left alone for the most part.
He says what was supposed to be a 24-hr. ceasefire on Wednesday evening lasted mere minutes. In a video clip attached, shot from Sanborn's hotel balcony, you can clearly hear the gun fire. At the end, he says, "No more ceasefire."
He says they fought all night and there were heavy exchanges in the early morning, so when he was offered a chance to move during a lull in the battle, he grabbed it.
"It was a pretty high-risk maneuver, but we made it."
He says it was an intense three-and-a-half kilometre, 45-minute van ride. Sanborn laid out of sight while the driver navigated through a series of back alleys and four check stops while avoiding hot spots.
"I was the only English-speaking person in the other hotel, so I was very isolated, very lonely, and very confused. I was not getting a lot of information and I didn't know what was going to happen. Now there are other Canadians here, and they're operating the hotel somewhat normally, or as normal as possible, so it's certainly a better venue but it's still located in a contested area."
This is Sanborn's fifth trip to Sudan. The first was in 2011, and he's been there three times since last November.
"I've had no issues in the country whatsoever security-wise. I always felt safe, felt that way this trip up until Saturday morning at 9 a.m. when I heard machine gun fire outside my hotel room. I thought that was a dangerous thing to do in the city and within a half hour there were full-on heavy artillery, mortars, and tanks, and then probably within two hours, these Mik-29s were coming in and dropping bombs just blocks from my hotel. It wasn't a riot, it wasn't protest, it was war. It escalated very quickly."
The power grid is down and fortunately, his hotel has a diesel generator to allow it to continue to operate.
But he foresees problems ahead.
"It's 40 degrees here, there's no a/c here, and there's no water supply. A pretty big humanitarian crisis is on the horizon if this doesn't get solved very quickly."
He says he's been fortunate to have plenty of support.
"I've had a tonne of support from family and friends, and I've had a tonne of support from my employer. I'm here for work, but my employer has done everything in their power to get me home safe and make sure I'm comfortable and removing other stresses, so I've got a good support team.
"Maybe I don't need it as badly, but there are 1,499 other people who might need the government to get them out of this mess.
"It's bloody scary."