April 23, 2023 -BBC News –Several countries have evacuated diplomats and citizens from Sudan’s capital as fierce fighting continues to rage in Khartoum.
The US and UK announced on Sunday they had flown diplomats out of the country.
France, Germany, Italy and Spain are among other countries also organising evacuations, starting on Sunday.
A vicious power struggle between the regular army and a powerful paramilitary force has led to violence across the country.
US authorities said they had airlifted fewer than 100 people with three Chinook helicopters on Sunday morning in a “fast and clean” operation.
The US embassy in Khartoum is now closed, and a tweet on its official feed says it is not safe enough for the government to evacuate private US citizens.
The UK government managed to airlift British diplomats and their families out of the country in what was described as a “complex and rapid” operation. Foreign Minister James Cleverly said options to evacuate the remaining British nationals in Sudan were “severely limited”.
Several other countries were conducting evacuation operations on Sunday:
- French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that a plane had arrived in Djibouti carrying French citizens and others on Sunday
- A handful of Dutch citizens left Khartoum on the French plane, and the Netherlands hoped to airlift more citizens out on Sunday evening
- Germany’s army said the first of three planes had left Sudan, bound for Jordan, with 101 people on board
- Italy and Spain have evacuated citizens – the Spanish mission included citizens from Argentina, Colombia, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Mexico, Venezuela and Sudan
- Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had evacuated its diplomatic staff
Other countries successfully evacuated people on Saturday. More than 150 people, mostly citizens of Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, Pakistan and Canada were evacuated by sea to the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah.
There have been desperate calls for help from many foreign students – from Africa, Asia and the Middle East – who are also stuck in Khartoum, a city of some six million people.
Meanwhile, there are reports that internet connectivity has almost totally collapsed in Sudan, which could seriously hinder the coordination of help for those trapped in Khartoum and other cities.
The power struggle has seen heavy bombardment in the capital city, with hundreds killed and thousands more injured.
- MAPS: Khartoum violence mapped as civilians flee
- UNSUNG HEROES: How food and medicines are being delivered
- ANALYSIS: The two generals fighting over Sudan’s future
- SIMPLE GUIDE: What is going on in Sudan?
The near-constant shooting and bombing in Khartoum and elsewhere has cut electricity and safe access to food and water for much of the population.
Several ceasefires that had seemingly been agreed by both sides were ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.
On Sunday, the US announced a disaster response team would be sent to the area to “coordinate the humanitarian response for those in need both within and outside of Sudan.”
Samantha Power from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said the team would work out of Kenya at first, and prioritise getting “life-saving humanitarian assistance to those who need it most.”
The World Health Organization says the fighting has killed more than 400 people and injured thousands. But the death toll is believed to be much higher as people are struggling to get healthcare, as most of the city’s hospitals have been forced to close by the fighting.
Along with Khartoum, the western region of Darfur, where the RSF first emerged, has also been badly affected by the fighting.
The UN has warned that up to 20,000 people – mostly women and children – have fled Sudan to seek safety in Chad, across the border from Darfur.