Sudan : On Monday, several European countries, China, and other nations rushed to evacuate their citizens from Khartoum amidst a temporary halt in the intense clashes between the army and the paramilitary forces.
The violent outbreak occurred on April 15 between the well-equipped Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the military, leading to a humanitarian crisis that claimed the lives of 420 people. The conflict has left millions of Sudanese without access to necessities and confined to their residences. At the same time, thousands of foreign nationals such as diplomats, aid workers, students, and their families were also stranded in a war zone last week.
According to Dr Attiya Abdallah, the head of the doctors’ union, the morgues are overflowing, dead bodies are scattered on the streets, and hospitals are struggling to operate under such circumstances.
Several countries from different parts of the world, including the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, have initiated emergency missions to evacuate their embassy staff and citizens from Sudan through air, sea, and road transport. The capital has been bombarded by fighter jets, with the main airport and roads leading in and out of Khartoum being unsafe due to artillery attacks. The conflict has become a threat to the safety of foreign nationals, with diplomats and aid workers being targeted in attacks resulting in the death of at least five aid workers.
We continue to follow the developments in Sudan and work with our Missions in the region to provide relief to Pakistanis there. 427 Pakistanis reached Port Sudan safely and are being lodged before arrangements for their onward journey are coordinated.— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) April 24, 2023
Despite the pressure from several nations concerned about the conflict’s repercussions and the safety of their citizens, the two sides involved have not honoured the temporary truce. However, there was a relative lull in fighting over the weekend, allowing the US to evacuate embassy staff by military helicopter and prompting other countries to follow suit.
Nevertheless, at least two convoys used in the evacuation process were attacked, one carrying Qatari embassy staff and the other carrying French citizens, resulting in one injury. France and Germany have reported that they have evacuated about 700 people, with no information about their nationalities, while Indonesia has evacuated over 500 citizens to the port, awaiting transportation to Jeddah.
Many countries have employed military planes and convoys to evacuate their citizens, with some boarding ships to Saudi Arabia from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is approximately 800 km from Khartoum by road. The European Union foreign policy chief, has confirmed that over 1,000 citizens from EU member states have been evacuated through a series of missions by France, Germany, and other countries.
Apart from the US, France, Germany, and Indonesia, other countries such as China, Denmark, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden have also successfully evacuated their citizens from Sudan. Japan has announced that it is preparing to send an evacuation team from Djibouti. On Sunday, a convoy of around 65 vehicles, carrying approximately 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff and their families, drove from Khartoum to Port Sudan as part of the evacuation plan. The diplomatic source also disclosed that the evacuation of international staff from the western region of Darfur, where fighting has escalated, is ongoing, with some heading to Chad and others to South Sudan.
427 Pakistanis reach Port Sudan
On Monday, the Foreign Office (FO) stated that it was closely monitoring the situation in Sudan and working with missions in the region to provide assistance to Pakistanis in the country. The FO reported that 427 Pakistanis had safely reached Port Sudan and were being accommodated until arrangements were made for their onward journey.
I am in a safe place outside the Sudan. I am very grateful to all those who took part in the evacuation of me and my two colleagues. But it fills me with immense sadness that I had to leave so many Sudanese colleagues and friends behind.— Ambassador Endre Stiansen 🇳🇴🇸🇩 (@NorwayAmbSudan) April 23, 2023
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) released a statement saying that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was overseeing the emergency evacuation plan for Pakistani nationals. The prime minister commended Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, foreign ministry officials, and Pakistan’s ambassador in Sudan for their efforts. He also expressed gratitude to the military authorities, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, Inter-Services Intelligence (IS) chief Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, and the leadership of Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, and Egypt for their support in the successful implementation of the evacuation plan.
Weapons and narrow interests
The situation in Sudan is a cause for concern, as the fighting between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has escalated since April 15, 2023. The violence has caused many countries to evacuate their embassy staff and citizens from the country, including Pakistan, France, Germany, and the United States. The city of Khartoum has endured more than a week of destruction, and life there is burdened with anxiety and exhaustion. The ongoing conflict has sparked fears of a deeper descent into bloodshed and a wider humanitarian crisis. The military coup that occurred in 2021 has created a power struggle between the army chief and his deputy, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The situation in Sudan is unstable, and the future is uncertain for the already impoverished nation.
Hospitals are used as bases.
The violence in Sudan has worsened the country’s already dire humanitarian situation, with foreigners who can leave the country doing so. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that five aid workers have been killed, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended its operations. The healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, with the World Health Organization (WHO) verifying 11 attacks on hospitals and clinics, some of which have been used as military bases. In Nyala, a Doctors Without Borders aid agency compound was raided, and its medical warehouse and vehicles were stolen. OCHA’s latest update reports that the remaining facilities in Khartoum and Darfur states are almost non-functional due to staff fatigue and lack of supplies. In Nyala, gunmen raided a WFP compound and seized ten vehicles and six food trucks. According to OCHA, warehouses in Nyala, South Darfur, were looted, with the loss of up to 4,000 metric tonnes of food. The WHO has prepared additional emergency medical supplies, such as blood bags, trauma, and emergency health kits, to meet the urgent health needs as other supplies have been rapidly consumed due to the heavy trauma load.
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