The Sudanese army has announced the evacuation of UK, US, French and Chinese nationals by air amidst ongoing fighting with a rival paramilitary group. Army chief, Fattah al-Burhan, has agreed to secure and facilitate the evacuation in the coming hours. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia safely transported 91 Saudi Arabian citizens and 66 people from various other countries, including Qatar, Pakistan, the UAE and Canada, by sea, though it remains unclear where they were evacuated from. The UK government has also said it is preparing for a number of contingencies, but as fighting continues, it is unclear how evacuations from Khartoum’s airport will take place.
Fierce street battles erupted in Khartoum on 15 April after disagreements emerged between the leaders of both sides, General Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, over how Sudan should be run. Both held top positions in Sudan’s current military government formed after the 2019 coup that ousted long-time leader Omar al-Bashir. They were supposed to merge their forces but the RSF resisted, which escalated into full-scale fighting last week. The conflict has entered its second week, and the World Health Organization reports that more than 400 people have been killed, while thousands of people, mainly civilians, have been injured.
Medical teams are being targeted in the fighting, and former foreign minister Mariam al-Mahdi, who is sheltering in Khartoum, has stated that the ceasefire agreed to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, starting from Friday, was “not taking at all”. Meanwhile, the UN has warned that up to 20,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled Sudan to seek safety in Chad, across the border from Darfur. As the situation continues to escalate, those stranded in the city have called for urgent evacuation, with one British citizen stating that she felt “completely abandoned” by the British government.