KHARTOUM: Countries have started to evacuate their stranded citizens as fierce fighting continues to rage in Khartoum, with France being the latest one to evacuate around 100 people of multiple nationalities on the first French flight after a “complicated” rescue operation.
Diplomats from Africa, the Middle East and the West have appealed for a halt to the fighting but with no result.
Saudi Arabia recently evacuated 66 people from friendly and brotherly nations, which also included Indian nationals. The evacuation came days after EAM S Jaishankar spoke to his Saudi Arabia counterpart and PM Modi on Friday chaired a high-level meeting to review the security situation in Sudan.
According to the officials, evacuees had to cross the first battle line near the capital Khartoum to board the aircraft, according to Al Jazeera.
“The U.N. and many others want the blood of the Sudanese,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner founder, said in a statement. Without a hint of irony, Mr. Prigozhin, who is waging a brutal military campaign on behalf of Russia in Ukraine, added: “I want peace.”
On condition of anonymity, a government official told reporters that a second flight with 100 additional passengers is scheduled to depart on Sunday evening and also travel to Djibouti, Al Jazeera reported.
James Cleverly, the UK Foreign Secretary, said on Sunday that protecting British citizens continues to be the UK government’s first priority. The UK also withdrew its embassy workers from Sudan.
Taking to his official Twitter handle, Cleverly stated, “Due to escalating threats against foreign diplomats, the UK has evacuated embassy staff from Sudan. Our top priority remains the safety of British nationals. We are working around the clock to broker international support to end the bloodshed in Sudan.”
He not only lauded the British diplomats and military personnel who carried out the operation but also urged the parties to lay down arms and implement an immediate ceasefire to allow citizens to leave conflict zones.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) too announced in an official statement on Sunday that two Indian Air Force C-130J have been positioned in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah and INS Sumedha has reached Port Sudan.
The MEA said that contingency plans are in place, but movement on the ground depends on the security situation.
Sudan is facing violence due to fighting between the army and the paramilitary forces. Fighting between two rival military factions – the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continues in Sudan despite a 72-hour truce declared for Eid, CNN reported.
On Saturday, loud explosions and clashes were reported, mainly near the military headquarters and presidential palace in Khartoum.
United States President Joe Biden too stated that the country’s military conducted an operation and evacuated government personnel from the conflict-hit Sudan.
“Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US Government personnel from Khartoum. I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan,” Biden said in a statement, released by the White House.
“I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety. And I thank Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, which were critical to the success of our operation,” he added.
The US President added that his team is providing him with regular updates on the efforts being made to help Americans in Sudan to the best of their ability. In this endeavour, the US is closely collaborating with its allies and partners.
Apart from evacuations, world leaders have called for peace in Sudan where violence is on surge due to an ongoing battle between the armed forces and the paramilitary forces.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the importance of maintaining close communication with neighbouring countries in the region, as well as those with significant numbers of citizens in Sudan.
India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar on April 20 met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York and discussed the developments in Sudan.
Today, Pope Francis also called for dialogue between Sudan’s opposing armed forces as the violence in the North African country only gets worse every day, according to Al Jazeera.
During his Sunday address at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican, Pope called for dialogue between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan.
“Unfortunately, the situation remains grave in Sudan,” the Pope said in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
“That is why I am renewing my call for the violence to stop as quickly as possible and for dialogue to resume,” he added.
Since the battle started, there have been more than 400 fatalities and more than 3,500 injuries, reported Al Jazeera. Sudan is facing violence due to fighting between the army and the paramilitary forces. There are reports of violence even amid a 72-hour ceasefire.
United States top General Mark Milley in a telephone conversation with Sudan’s General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan discussed the safety of US citizens in Sudan, which is witnessing fighting.
Fighting continued in Khartoum on Friday, even though the Sudanese army said it had reached an understanding with the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for a three-day ceasefire to allow civilians to observe the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr. The RSF announced earlier in the day that a 72-hour ceasefire had been reached in observance of Eid.
The conflict began when a coup in 2021 between Sudan’s military leader and his deputy on the ruling council erupted derailing a plan for a transition to a civilian democracy after the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Elections were supposed to be held by the end of 2023.
In the past week, more than 400 people have died and 3,500 have been injured, according to the United Nations, in pitched battles between the two sides — the regular army led by General al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries led by Lt. General Hamdan, reported by NYTimes.com
As per NewYorkTimes.com, “some foreign powers picked sides, and even delivered weapons, they weakened Sudan’s pro-democracy forces and helped tilt the country toward war by bolstering the military rivals now fighting it out on the Khartoum streets.” (ANI)