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Rafah border crossing still closed, no information on when Canadians can leave: Global Affairs Canada

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Despite its earlier suggestion that Canadian citizens might be able to start leaving Gaza on Sunday, Global Affairs has confirmed that the Rafah crossing into Egypt is still shuttered—and it's uncertain when that will change.

“We do not have information at this time of its re-opening,” the agency stated in a Sunday afternoon update.

Canada’s Ambassador to Egypt Louis Dumas told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview Sunday, "We were hopeful it would open today but it still has not opened."

The Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt has been closed for a second consecutive day after a breakdown in negotiations to keep it open to let foreign nationals out. Dumas said Egypt has dispatched its minister of health and the governor of North Sinai to the Rafah crossing in hopes of pushing negotiations forward to allow civilians to pass through.

"Up to now, you know, there hasn't been a resolution of the matter," Dumas said.

A Canadian whose father is in Gaza told The Canadian Press she received an email from Global Affairs Canada on Saturday saying evacuations for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members is tentatively set to start Monday.

Global Affairs had previously told Canadians that they may have been able to leave the war-torn Gaza Strip “as early as Sunday".

"We were hopeful that, you know, from all the indication that we had received, that we would have 200 Canadians come through on Sunday -- 216 coming through the following day -- but then disagreement happened between Hamas, Egypt and Israel on individuals crossing the border," he said. "So since then, because the border has not been operational, nobody has managed to come through.”

The first group of foreign nationals were permitted to leave the besieged enclave on Wednesday, with groups leaving daily up until the closure on Saturday, but Canadian citizens haven’t made the list so far.

Global Affairs said in the Sunday update that it is aware of reports of three Canadian citizens crossing into Egypt “with a third party,” but did not share any further information.

Canadians are not the only foreign nationals who have been unable to leave Gaza amid fighting triggered by Hamas' attack on Oct. 7, which killed more than 1,400 civilians and saw more than 200 hostages taken into Gaza.

Israel has responded with continued airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in an effort, the IDF said, to wipe out Hamas. More than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, including nearly 4,000 children.

"There's many, many countries waiting for their nationals to come to come through," Dumas said. "There's all there's close to 60 countries. So if you go back to Saturday, when, before the standstill, there was approximately 50 per cent of those 60 countries that have managed to get some of their individuals through."

Dumas said Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Romania are among those countries that have also "have not at this point managed to get their people through."

Global Affairs Canada said in an update Saturday there are 453 Canadians registered in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as 5,755 Canadians registered in Israel and 18,028 in Lebanon. The department said since its last update, it has been in contact with "69 Canadians, permanent residents, and family members in West Bank, 516 in Gaza and 51 in Israel."

Seven Canadians have been confirmed dead in Israel, with two others still missing.

Global Affairs said Egypt will allow anyone who makes the crossing to stay in the country for a maximum of 72 hours and said consular officials will be available to help Canadians get to Cairo and onward to Canada. The Canadian government said it would also provide accommodation, food and basic necessities to Canadians who cross into Egypt.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTVNews.ca's Alexandra Mae Jones 

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