Rescue operations to extract foreigners from Sudan
AUTHOR: AFP | PUBLISHED: April 24, 2023
This handout photograph taken on April 23, 2023 shows French and other nationalities people as they embark at French military air base in Khartoum to fly to Djibouti on April 23, during the "Sagittaire" evacuation of around 100 people from Sudan.
Etat Major des Armées | AFP
Battles raging in Sudan have sparked several evacuation operations to rescue foreign citizens or embassy staff by road, air and sea.
The main airport in the capital Khartoum has been the site of heavy fighting and is under the control of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that is battling the army.
Some evacuations are taking place from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, an 850 kilometre (530 mile) drive from Khartoum.
Here is an overview of what various nations were doing in efforts to take stranded citizens to safety.
Saudi Arabia led the first reported successful evacuation with naval operations picking up more than 150 people including foreign diplomats and officials from Port Sudan on Saturday.
Riyadh announced the “safe arrival” of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries — Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philipines, Canada and Burkina Faso.
On Sunday, the US military sent three Chinook helicopters to evacuate American embassy staff from Khartoum.
More than 100 US forces took part in the rescue to extract fewer than 100 people, which saw the choppers flying from Djibouti to Ethiopia to Sudan, where they stayed on the ground for less than an hour.
Several thousand US citizens including dual nationals are thought to remain in the country.
Around 100 people of multiple nationalities have been evacuated from Sudan on a first French flight out of the country, a French foreign ministry official said on Sunday, with a second flight of another 100 people planned to leave Sunday evening.
The British army has evacuated UK embassy staff and their families in a “complex and rapid” operation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a tweet.
Ankara began operations at dawn on Sunday, taking some of its estimated 600 nationals by road from two Khartoum districts and the southern city of Wad Madani.
But plans were postponed from one site in Khartoum after “explosions” near a mosque designated as the assembly area, the embassy said.
The European Union said Sunday there were “efforts to coordinate” evacuations. Seven EU members have missions in Sudan.
The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said a “handful” of Dutch people had been evacuated on a French aircraft, with another group leaving Khartoum by road in a UN convoy.
Germany began evacuating citizens, the defence and foreign ministries tweeted Sunday, following an aborted attempt to transfer 150 Germans on Wednesday.
Sweden’s defence minister told AFP on Sunday “140 to 150” soldiers were mobilised to evacuate diplomats and other Swedish nationals.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Rome was planning to evacuate “about 200 people” including Italians, Swiss and representatives of the Vatican in a military operation on Sunday.
The Greek foreign ministry said a first group of evacuees has “left Sudan with the assistance of France”.
The Irish government is deploying 12 defence personnel to Djibouti to help evacuate 150 citizens in Sudan, a foreign ministry statement said.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said Sunday 436 citizens had been evacuated by land, having previously said over 10,000 Egyptians live in the neighbouring country.
A member of Cairo’s diplomatic mission was previously shot, the ministry said, without providing further details. Egypt’s military on Wednesday evacuated 177 of its soldiers from Sudan.
Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman Sinan Majali said Saturday that Amman had begun the evacuation of some 300 Jordanian citizens, adding there was “continuous cooperation with the UAE and Saudi Arabia”.
Iraqi embassy staff left Khartoum on Saturday, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahhaf said, while on Sunday, 14 citizens arrived in Port Sudan. An Iraqi was killed in Khartoum “due to current events”, Sahhaf told AFP Sunday, without providing further details.
Lebanon said 60 citizens had also left Khartoum by road, ahead of their evacuation by sea.
The Libyan embassy in Khartoum on Friday said it had evacuated 83 Libyans from the capital, taking them to Port Sudan.
The Tunisian embassy has announced an evacuation operation planned for Monday to extract citizens remaining in the country, after some had left aboard Saudi ships.
Spain’s government announced Sunday that it had flown out around one hundred people from Sudan, including 30 Spanish citizens and 70 others from Europe and Latin America.
A foreign ministry statement said a military aircraft had left Khartoum shortly before 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) and was bound for Djibouti.
Among the other nationalities flown out were people from Argentina, Colombia, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Mexico, Venezuela, the statement added.
The evacuation operation had passed off without incident, it said.
The fighting between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s forces and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s RSF began on April 15 over a dispute on the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.
The violence has left at least 420 dead and 3,700 injured, according to the World Health Organization.
Other foreign countries preparing evacuations include South Korea and Japan, which have deployed forces to nearby countries.
India said it had two air force planes “on standby” in Saudi Arabia and a navy ship had arrived in Port Sudan, but any evacuations “would depend on the security situation”, according to a foreign ministry statement.
The Sudanese army has said it is also coordinating efforts to evacuate diplomats from China.
Indonesia said 43 citizens were sheltering inside the embassy compound in Khartoum.