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BEHIND THE SCENES: Harrowing escape from Sudan for Guelph family

GuelphToday reporter Taylor Pace takes us behind the scenes

A Guelph family's harrowing experience amidst the conflict that erupted in Sudan on April 15 has left them traumatized. Rania Mukhtar, along with her two 16-year-old daughters and nine-year-old son, was visiting her family in Khartoum when the violence broke out in the capital city.

For a gruelling 10 days, Mukhtar and her children found themselves trapped in her mother's house, living in constant fear as gunfire echoed outside and planes dropped bombs on unsuspecting homes. During five of those days, they had no access to electricity or running water.

Mukhtar captured videos of their ordeal, documenting their terrifying circumstances. On the tenth day, they made a daring escape attempt. However, Mukhtar had to pause their journey to retrieve one of her daughters from Omdurman, the neighboring town where she had been staying with her cousins.

"At the bridge connecting the two cities, there was an entire army stationed there. My son was filled with terror the entire time we crossed the bridge, believing they might kill us due to their intimidating weapons," Mukhtar recounted.

After reuniting with her daughter, they embarked on a bus journey from Khartoum to Cairo, Egypt, which cost a staggering $10,000 USD for Mukhtar and her three children.

"The journey was terrifying," she shared, describing how the military frequently stopped their bus. "We were subjected to searches each time. We had to conceal all our gold because the same individuals who were responsible for the bombings and killings were patrolling the roads, stopping cars for inspections."

To ensure their valuables remained safe, Mukhtar hid her gold inside her bra while distributing money among her children to hide within their clothes.

"When we reached the Sudan-Egypt border, we had to sleep on the floor because our bus missed the designated time," Mukhtar said, highlighting the hardships they faced, especially with young children.

Currently, they are renting an apartment in Cairo until they can return home to Guelph. Despite their physical safety, they are still struggling to overcome the trauma of their experience. Every loud noise triggers a terrifying response in them.

As the conflict escalates, many Guelph residents with ties to Sudan are witnessing the unfolding horror with a sense of helplessness. Talaat Eltayeb, a Guelph resident with family in Khartoum, shared that some of his relatives managed to escape to Egypt or safer rural areas. However, others remain trapped in Khartoum, torn between the fear of staying or attempting to leave, especially considering the exorbitant travel costs.

Eltayeb mentioned providing financial assistance to friends in Khartoum but acknowledged their limited resources, preventing them from helping everyone. He expressed heartbreak over the desperate and scared situation his family and others are enduring.

Mohamed Malik, a Sudanese Canadian living in Guelph, echoed similar sentiments. He revealed that many people in Sudan were unable to afford evacuation and had resorted to seeking safety in other cities within the country.

Malik, who also has family in Khartoum, shared stories of their struggle. Some managed to leave through evacuation flights to Canada, while others chose to stay behind to support their loved ones in finding a way to Egypt by land - a challenging and arduous journey spanning over 1,500 kilometers under extreme conditions.

Video Summary:

In a recent visit to Khartoum, a Guelph family experienced a terrifying ordeal that left them traumatized. After being trapped for 10 days in her mother's house, Rania Mukhtar and her children faced the constant fear of gunfire, bombings, and a lack of basic necessities such as electricity and water. Finally, on day 10, they made a risky journey to escape, stopping in a nearby town to retrieve one of their daughters. They traveled from Khartoum to Cairo, Egypt, facing military checkpoints and searches along the way. The entire journey cost them $10,000 USD, and they are currently renting an apartment in Cairo until they can return home to Guelph.

The situation in Sudan has caused widespread fear and displacement among Guelph residents with connections to the country. While some have managed to escape to safer areas or be evacuated, many remain trapped in Khartoum, unable to leave due to financial constraints or safety concerns. The escalating conflict has led to looting, a lack of essential services like healthcare, and a rise in violence in various parts of Sudan. The international community, including Canada, has pledged aid for Sudan and neighboring countries experiencing an influx of refugees, but there is a need for more efforts focused on family reunification and refugee sponsorship.

The plight of the Guelph family is just one example of the countless individuals and families who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan. The fear, trauma, and challenges they face are unimaginable, and there is a pressing need for swift action from the international community to provide support and assistance. The situation in Sudan has the potential to escalate further and develop into an ethnic civil war, reminiscent of Sudan's history. Urgent efforts are required to alleviate the suffering of those affected and prevent further tragedy.