'Momma, are they going to kill us?’: Guelph, Ont. mother recounts family's escape from Sudan conflict
"My kids were terrified, Mukhtar said. "Sometimes I can't sleep at night because the sound, and we heard everything."
Mukhtar, along with her two 16-year-old daughters and nine-year-old son, were visiting family in Khartoum when conflict erupted on April 15.
"I’m telling them don't panic, but to be honest I'm shaking from inside and outside and they can see," she said.
For days, Mukhtar and her children found themselves trapped in her mother’s home as gunshots echoed outside and planes dropped bombs on nearby homes.
"You don't know what to do, suddenly electricity is off and we don't have any water, all the supermarkets, everything is totally closed," Mukhtar said. "My son, he's nine years old, he said ‘momma are they gonna kill us?' I had that fear, what he said."
Mukhtar captured videos and photos of their ordeal.
Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands have fled for their lives since the start of the brutal fighting.
"This is my first concern: my kids,” Mukhtar said. “Not about myself, it's about my kids, what would happen, everything coming to my mind is: they are going to kill my kids.”
The family escaped from Khartoum by train. The journey lasted eight days and cost them about $10,000 USD.
Mukhtar and one of her daughters concealed their money and other valuables in their undergarments to ensure they wouldn’t be found by soldiers.
“Well, they can’t search under our pants, they can’t do that, so this is the only safe place to stash our belongings,” she said.
After what Mukhtar describes as an eternity, the family found themselves in Cairo, Egypt.
They are staying with family for now before they make their way back home to Guelph, hoping peace can prevail in Sudan soon.
"I hope that the Sudanese community can be strong and to send our concern to the people who can speak on behalf of us," Mukhtar said.
The federal government has ended evacuation flights from Sudan. Canadians, permanent residents and their families who need help are encouraged to contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre for emergency consular services.