RAF plane lands in Sudan as UK begins evacuations

The C-17 Globemaster was on the ground at the eastern Sudanese port on the Red Sea along with troops who “may form part of a second rescue”…reports Asian Lite News

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said officials have started contacting British nationals in Sudan and he evacuation is to begin from Tuesday.

A team of troops from the UK arrived at Port Sudan on Monday on a reconnaissance mission. The flight comes as the UK government assessed options for an evacuation of British nationals stranded in the crisis-hit country.

The C-17 Globemaster was on the ground at the eastern Sudanese port on the Red Sea along with troops who “may form part of a second rescue.”

It comes after the government was criticized for its evacuation on Sunday of British diplomats from Khartoum, but not other UK nationals.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said on Sunday that 3,000 to 4,000 British nationals were still in Sudan, with “well over 1,000” asking for help in order to leave the country.

James Heappey, the armed forces minister, said in a briefing that the UK recognized “the job isn’t done” when it came to rescuing those still stranded.

He added that government plans were continuing “at pace” and that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be given options to help Britons trapped in Sudan “as and when they arise.”

The UK development minister, Andrew Mitchell, said on Monday morning that he was unable to give a timeline for a possible rescue of British nationals.

“The situation is absolutely desperate and a ceasefire is required,” he said. “The only advice that Britain can give to people is to stay indoors because that is the safe option.”

Rival military factions agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire from Monday night in Sudan, where at least 400 people have been killed in fighting since 15 April.

France evacuates 388 people of 28 countries

As war rages intensified in Sudan, France evacuated 388 people from 28 countries. Evacuation from the capital, Khartoum, has proved intensely dangerous since conflict erupted over the weekend between Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, New York Times reported. But after days hunkered inside their homes, often as battle rages in the streets outside, more Sudanese and foreign nationals have sought to flee the city of five million people.

“French evacuation operations are underway. Last night, two military flight rotations evacuated 388 people of 28 countries, including Indian nationals,” tweeted the Embassy of France in India.

Millions of residents are trapped inside their homes, many running low on water and food after the eruption of fighting on April 15 between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group.

It has triggered a humanitarian crisis, killing at least 420 people and leaving behind charred tanks, gutted buildings and shops that have been looted and torched.

The WHO retweeted a post from Sudan’s Health Ministry on Sunday saying at least 420 people had been killed and 3,700 injured in the fighting so far.

Countries scrambled to evacuate their diplomats and citizens from the Sudanese capital on Saturday and Sunday. “Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that all US personnel and their families had been evacuated and operations at the US Embassy in Khartoum have been “temporarily suspended.”

The foreign governments began landing aircraft and organising convoys in Khartoum to pull out their nationals. The US said special forces using MH-47 Chinook helicopters swept into Sudan’s battle-stricken capital from a US base in Djibouti, spending just one hour on the ground to bring out fewer than 100 people.

Germany and France announced Sunday that they had begun evacuating their nationals and those from other countries. Other European countries, including Italy, the Netherlands and Greece, also said they were planning rescue efforts, reported Al Jazeera.

Long convoys of UN vehicles and buses were seen leaving Khartoum heading east to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, 850km (530 miles) away by road, carrying “citizens from all over the world”, according to one Sierra Leonean evacuee.

Turkey began rescue operations at dawn Sunday via road from the southern city of Wad Madani. Still, the effort was postponed from one site in Khartoum after explosions near a mosque designated as the assembly area, the embassy said on Twitter.

An Italian air force C-130 that left Khartoum with evacuees landed Sunday night at an air base in Djibouti, the country’s Defence Ministry said.

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