By Maureen Ikpeama
Sudan’s de facto president and commander-in-chief of the army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said he has agreed to facilitate the evacuation of foreign civilians and diplomats from the embattled country.
By Saturday evening, however, no citizens of Western countries had been evacuated.
Al-Burhan has pledged to “facilitate and guarantee” the evacuations and to provide the countries with “the necessary support to ensure this,” the army spokesman said.
as apparent ceasefire agreements have been repeatedly violated during the conflict.
As clashes continue, Sudanese citizens are also trying to flee the fighting.
SThousSsnds more people have been displaced from heavily contested areas within the country.
According to the Saudi television station al-Arabiya, five Saudi ships also brought 158 people from Sudan to the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Among them were diplomats and citizens from Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Canada, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines, according to the Saudi Foreign citizenscountry’s de facto president said he remained in control of the army and would only let his rival and former deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, the leader of the RSF, get away “in a coffin.”
FightingUudds broke out in Sudan about a week ago between the north-eastern African country’s two most powerful generals and their respective militaUyuuan.
Diplomats have been trying for days to secure a resilient ceasefire for the evacuation of foreign citizens.
UyOn Sawturday morning, KhartSauuud hearing explosions in the capital on Twitter.
The ceasefire largely held during the night, the reporter said. There were only “sporadic clashes.”
The USs embassy in Khartoum said on Saturday that the ongoing fighting and closure of the airport in the capital made it currently impossible to evacuate US citizens.
The embassy continues to closely monitor the situation in Khartoum and surrounding areas, it said in a statement.
Apart from the fighting between the rival forces, there are currently reports of attacks, home invasions and looting.
Spain, meanwhile, sent four aircraft to the east African country of Djibouti to facilitate evacuations of its nationals and other foreign citizens from Sudan, according to media reports.
Two more planes are still to follow on Saturday, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles was quoted as saying by the Europa Press news agency. Djibouti is located some 1,200 kilometres south-east of Khartoum.
Some of the Spanish cargo planes were carrying special forces and armoured vehicles to safely evacuate civilians if necessary, the minister said.
As Khartoum airport is currently closed, “you have to get overland to a nearby airfield, but we have very well-prepared special forces,” Robles was quoted as saying.
An evacuation will only be possible when there is an “effective and genuine ceasefire,” Robles added.
According to the German Defence Ministry, the country’s armed forces, or Bundeswehr, are preparing for a new attempt to evacuate German citizens.
On Wednesday, an attempt at a diplomatic evacuation with air force planes had been aborted.
The Swedish government plans to ask parliament to authorise on Sunday the deployment of an armed unit to Sudan to support an evacuation mission, Foreign Minister Tobias Billström and Defense Minister Pål Jonson said on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, a British Government source has said that Sudan will be evacuated of British embassy staff “as soon as feasible” due to safety fears following increasing attacks on diplomatic missions,
Ministers are keen to help British officials to exit the African country, which is currently into a second week of bloody internal fighting between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.
But a British Government source said any evacuation would be “incredibly limited” and focused on the small number of British civil servants based in the capital, Khartoum.
Any military effort to help airlift people out of the country is not expected to be on the same scale as seen in Afghanistan in 2021, especially given Britain does not have a substantial diplomatic or military footprint in Sudan.
Britons in the warring nation are continuing to be advised to ensure they have registered their presence with the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and to stay indoors.
“Due to the increasing attacks on diplomatic missions, we will be evacuating our HMG staff as soon as feasible,” a British Government source said.
“It’s likely any evacuation will be incredibly limited due to the small number of UK staff in the country, and British nationals should remain in a place of shelter.
“There is currently no suggestion British nationals are being actively targeted by armed factions.”
The source said British options were “likely to be extremely limited for the foreseeable”.
They added: “We do not expect any major change in our travel advice to Sudan for British nationals in the coming days.”
The comments come after the Sudanese army said it is co-ordinating efforts to evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats from Sudan on military aircraft, including Britons, Americans, French and Chinese.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) would not confirm whether it was assisting with the suggested plans.
A source in the department said it was planning for a wide range of scenarios, alongside the Foreign Office, on how it could assist in Sudan.
With reports suggesting the British Army is on standby to help with a potential evacuation, the MoD pointed out that a high-readied armed forces unit is always on hand to be deployed should they be required.
Prospects of airlifting people out of Sudan have been complicated by the fact most major airports in the country have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital has proven dangerous.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday chaired the fourth emergency Cobra meeting on the Sudan situation.
He was joined by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Africa minister Andrew Mitchell for the discussions.
A government spokesman said: “We recognise that the situation is extremely concerning for British nationals trapped by the fighting in Sudan.
“We are doing everything possible to support British nationals and diplomatic staff in Khartoum, and the Ministry of Defence is working with the Foreign Office to prepare for a number of contingencies.”
Battles continue to rage in and around Khartoum between the Sudanese army led by Army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan and his rival paramilitary group.
The clashes have killed more than 400 people so far, according to the World Health Organisation.
Even as the warring sides said on Friday that they had agreed to a ceasefire for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, explosions and gunfire rang out across Khartoum on Saturday.
Two ceasefire attempts earlier this week also rapidly collapsed.
Britain has historic ties to Sudan. In an unusual arrangement, Britain and Egypt jointly ruled Sudan from 1899 until it gained independence in 1956, but Sudan is not among the group of 56 Commonwealth nations.