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Uganda Seeks to Evacuate Citizens Stranded in Sudan

Women and a boy walk along a street in Khartoum on April 18, 2023.
Women and a boy walk along a street in Khartoum on April 18, 2023.

KAMPALA: The government of Uganda says it’s working on plans to bring home over 300 students, workers and travelers in transit from the chaos in Sudan, many of whom have been sheltering since fighting started Saturday.

Among the known Ugandans in Sudan are 116 students, 120 workers, 14 in hospitals, and six on short visits — while another 19 are travelers who were transiting through Sudan to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia as part of a Ramadan pilgrimage when the fighting broke out.

Ugandan legislator Nkunyingi Muwada said he has received calls from people in Sudan and parents indicating that their children are stuck in the areas undergoing shelling.

"A number of these Ugandan nationals are trapped in Sudan airports," he said. "We have information from the distress calls we have received that the fighting in Sudan spread to various regions of Sudan and a number of our nationals who are …stranded in different parts of [the country]."

Muwada wants the government to initiate rescue measures including the establishment of alternative shelters for stranded Ugandans.

Uganda’s ambassador to Sudan Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu said that "regardless of the fighting going on in the middle of [the capital], we have been following up with the situation with all our citizens who are here. The Ugandans in Khartoum so far are safe."

He said the travelers who were stuck at the Sudan’s main airport in the capital have since been transferred to safe places until they can be evacuated.

"We are in contact with them and also in contact with the airline which was supposed to take them to Jeddah," said Ssemuddu. "They were moved to a safe place in one of the hotels in Khartoum, and the airline gave us assurances that they will cater for everything for the time they will be in the hotel as they are waiting for the situation to calm down and they open the airport."

Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, John Mulimba, said the government is working with various groups — including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — to provide all needed support to their citizens, including assistance for possible evacuations.

"The government," he said, "has is working with other regional and international partners to monitor the situation and urges return to constructive dialogue and recommit to the principles of the transition process as the only way to lead to national reconciliation and peace."

Clashes between Sudan's military and the country's main paramilitary force that started on Saturday have reportedly killed around 200 people and wounded 1,800.

Sudan's rival commanders agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire starting Tuesday evening, but Army Gen. Shams El Din Kabbashi, a member of Sudan's ruling military council, said on al Arabiya TV it would not extend past the agreed 24 hours.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.