Brussels 24.04.2023 Europe, China and Japan are in a hurry to extract their citizens from Khartoum, Sudan, on Monday, April 24, and thousands more people took advantage of an apparent lull in fighting between the army and a paramilitary force over the past two days to escape from the unrest. (Image: illustration).
The sudden eruption of violence between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group on April 15 triggered a humanitarian crisis, in cause of which 427 people were killed, U.N. agencies said. Others have expressed fear for their lives as clashes spread through residential areas.
Nations including Gulf states and Russia were also attempting to get citizens out on Monday, and there was a growing exodus to Sudan’s neighboring countries, including 10,000 people who fled to South Sudan despite chronic instability there.
Along with millions of Sudanese without access to basic services, foreign diplomats, aid workers, students and their families found themselves in an intense war zone last week. Internet connections were cut on Monday, website Netblocks reported.
Fighter jets have bombed the Khartoum, the main airport has been at the centre of fighting and artillery barrages have made movement unsafe in and out of one of Africa’s largest cities. Diplomats have been targeted in attacks, and at least five aid workers killed.
Despite sustained pressure from countries concerned by the conflict’s wider repercussions as well as the safety of their nationals, the two belligerent sides have not abided by a temporary truce.
However fighting calmed enough over the weekend for the United States to get Embassy staff out by military helicopter, triggering a significant rush of evacuations by other countries.
Families with children crowded into Spanish and French military transport planes, while a group of nuns were among the evacuees on an Italian aircraft, photographs showed. Some of the flights left from the Wadi Seyidna air base north of Khartoum, the army said.
At least two convoys involved in evacuations came under attack at the weekend, including one carrying Qatari Embassy staff and another carrying French citizens, at least one of whom was injured.
On Monday France and Germany announced they had evacuated around 700 people, without giving details of their nationalities. A German air force plane carrying evacuees landed in Berlin early on Monday.
Several countries sent military planes from Djibouti to fly people out from the capital, while other operations took people by convoy to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is about 800 km (500 miles) by road from Khartoum. From there some have boarded ships to Saudi Arabia.
Indonesia said so far more than 500 of its citizens had been evacuated to the sea port, and were awaiting transport to Jeddah, across the Red Sea.
China, Denmark, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden also said they had got nationals out, while Japan said it was preparing to send an evacuation team from Djibouti.
A convoy of about 65 vehicles carrying some 700 international United Nations, NGO and embassy staff and their dependents drove from Khartoum to Port Sudan on Sunday as part of the evacuations, a diplomatic source said.