Accessibility links

Breaking News

Foreigners Flee Khartoum


FILE: Complicating evacuation of foreign nationals from Khartoum is the control of the capital's airport by the RSF. Taken April 17, 2023.
FILE: Complicating evacuation of foreign nationals from Khartoum is the control of the capital's airport by the RSF. Taken April 17, 2023.

UPDATED WITH UN GUTERRES COMMENT: KHARTOUM - Nations around the world raced to extract thousands of their citizens from Khartoum on Monday during an apparent lull in fierce fighting between the army and a paramilitary force.

As nations try to recover their nationals from a bloodied Sudan, at least 427 people, including 264 civilians, have been killed and over 3,700 wounded in nine days of fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

The UN secretary-general warned Monday that the violence between warring parties in Sudan "could engulf the whole region and beyond."

Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the UN Security Council on multilateralism that the situation in Sudan "continues to worsen."

Some evacuations are taking place from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, an 850-kilometre (530-mile) drive from Khartoum.

Nigeria plans to start evacuating nearly 3,000 of its nationals, mostly students, from Sudan by convoy to Egypt this week, a top official said on Monday.

Onimode Bandele, special duties director for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency or NEMA, told Channels TV the plan was to move about 2,650 to 2,800, including families of embassy staff.

Officials say a total of around 5,000 Nigerian nationals could be looking for evacuation.

South Africa said Monday it had begun evacuating dozens of its citizens who were trapped in conflict-hit Sudan.

"I can confirm that the operation to evacuate South Africans in Sudan and the staff at the South African embassy there is currently underway. They are being taken to a neighboring country for safety," foreign affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela told AFP, without disclosing the country.

He did not give the numbers being evacuated nor a timeline on when they would land in South Africa.

Around 10,000 refugees have entered South Sudan from Sudan in recent days fleeing fighting between the army and paramilitary forces, officials in South Sudan's Renk County said on Monday.

About 6,500 crossed the border on Saturday and another 3,000 on Sunday, and more were arriving on Monday, county commissioner Kak Padiet told Reuters.

The army commander in Renk, Dau Aturjong, said three-quarters of the arrivals are South Sudanese while the rest are Sudanese, Eritrean, Kenyan, Ugandan and Somali.

Many Sudanese, along with Egyptians and other foreigners who could not get on flights, risked the long and dangerous drive to the northern border into Egypt.

“We traveled 15 hours on land at our own risk,” Suliman al-Kouni, an Egyptian student, said at the Arqin border crossing with Egypt. Buses lined up at the remote desert crossing carrying hundreds of people, he said. Al-Kouni was among dozens of Egyptian students making the trek. “But many of our friends are still trapped in Sudan,” he said.

Chad will evacuate 438 of its citizens from conflict-torn Sudan, busing them from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea then flying them home, Chadian government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh tweeted Monday.

The United States is positioning some naval assets in the Red Sea to assist any Americans leaving Sudan but no major U.S. evacuation is underway, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.

"We are still looking at options. We've got military assets still in the region nearby should they be needed, but this is not the time to be conducting some sort of mass operation," he told MSNBC in an interview.

On Sunday, the US military sent three Chinook helicopters to to extract fewer than 100 people, which saw the choppers flying from Djibouti to Khartoum, where they stayed on the ground for less than an hour.

France and Germany on Monday said they had evacuated around 700 people, without giving a breakdown of their nationalities. A German air force plane carrying evacuees landed in Berlin early on Monday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Luxembourg on Monday that the evacuation operation has been successful, with more than 1,000 people brought out by EU member states.

“We have to continue pushing for a political settlement. We cannot afford that Sudan, which is a very populated country, implodes because it will be sending shock waves around the whole (of) Africa,” he said. He earlier tweeted that he had spoken with the rival commanders appealing for a cease-fire.

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.

The Sudanese army has said it is also coordinating efforts to evacuate diplomats from China, which has evacuated the first group of its citizens, Beijing's foreign ministry said Monday, amid heavy fighting in the African nation.

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.

The evacuation of international staff from Darfur, the western region where fighting has also escalated, is also under way, with some heading to Chad and others to South Sudan, the source said.

Libya said Monday that 105 citizens would be flown home from Jeddah after being evacuated by the Saudi navy.

The Tunisian embassy has announced an evacuation operation planned for Monday, with some citizens having already left aboard Saudi ships.

Beyond the capital, people are reported to have fled clashes in several regions including Darfur's three states, Blue Nile State on the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, and North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum, according to a U.N. update on Monday.

This report was compiled from Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse..