Sudan: Army agrees to assist with evacuation of foreign citizens
The Sudan army said Saturday it was coordinating efforts to evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats from Sudan on military aircraft, as the bloody fighting that has engulfed the vast African nation entered its second week.
Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan said he would facilitate the evacuation of American, British, Chinese, and French citizens and diplomats from Sudan after speaking with the leaders of several countries that had requested help. The prospect has vexed officials as most major airports have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital, Khartoum, has proven intensely dangerous.
Burhan “agreed to provide the necessary assistance to secure such evacuations for various countries,” Sudan’s military said.
Questions have swirled over how the mass rescues of foreign citizens would unfold, with Sudan’s main international airport closed and millions of people sheltering indoors. As battles between the Sudanese army led by Burhan and a rival powerful paramilitary group rage in and around Khartoum, including in residential areas, foreign countries have struggled to repatriate their citizens — many trapped in their homes as food supplies dwindle.
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Burhan told Saudi-owned TV station Al-Hadath on Saturday that flights in and out of Khartoum remained risky because of the ongoing clashes. He claimed that the military had regained control over all the other airports in the country, except for one in the southwestern city of Nyala.
“We share the international community’s concern about foreign nationals,” he said. “Living conditions are deteriorating.”
In a separate interview with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite channel, Burhan promised Sudan would provide “necessary airports and safe passageways” for foreigners trapped in the fighting, without elaborating.
Even as the warring sides said Friday they’d agreed to a cease-fire for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, explosions and gunfire rang out across Khartoum on Saturday. Two cease-fire attempts earlier this week also rapidly collapsed. The turmoil has dealt a perhaps fatal blow to hopes for the country’s transition to a civilian-led democracy and raised concerns the chaos could draw in its neighbors, including Chad, Egypt, and Libya.
“The war has been continuous since day one. It has not stopped for one moment,” said Atiya Abdalla Atiya, secretary of the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, which monitors casualties. The clashes have killed over 400 people so far, according to the World Health Organization. The bombardments, gunbattles, and sniper fire in densely populated areas have hit civilian infrastructure, including many hospitals.