Final Sudan flights underway as evacuations wind down

Final Sudan flights underway as evacuations wind down

Two final evacuation flights from Sudan were expected to land in Cyprus overnight as the number of people repatriated from the war-torn nation neared 2,200.

The Foreign Office said Sudanese doctors working for the NHS were among the flight passengers after ministers agreed to extend the evacuation criteria to include eligible non-British nationals working as clinicians in the NHS, as well as their dependents.

It is not known what time the passengers will arrive following the second leg of their journey from Larnaca, Cyprus, to the UK.

While the UK Government said it expected no more flights to leave following the bank holiday Monday airlifts, Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster will remain in the Red Sea to support any further evacuation efforts from Sudan.

The British rescue effort was the longest lasting and largest evacuation from the African nation by any Western country, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Officials said the UK would now focus on the diplomatic and humanitarian response to the bloody conflict caused by a violent rivalry between two generals.

A fragile three-day ceasefire was holding together despite opposing troops clashing in the capital Khartoum on Monday.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “With thanks to the extraordinary efforts of staff and military, the UK has brought 2,197 people to safety from Sudan so far — the largest airlift by any Western nation.

“As the focus turns to humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, we will continue to do all we can to press for a long-term ceasefire and an immediate end to the violence in Sudan.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Yet again the men and women of our armed forces have led the way.

“In one week, the RAF have flown more than 20 flights, deployed over a thousand personnel, evacuated over 2,000 civilians and helped citizens from more than 20 countries to get home.

“HMS Lancaster will remain at Port Sudan and her crew will continue to help provide support.”

In addition to British nationals, the UK helped evacuate 1,087 people from other nations, including the US, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Australia.

On Saturday, the UK Government announced it would no longer be running evacuation flights from Wadi Saeedna airfield near Khartoum.

The FCDO said the reasons for the decision were that there had been a significant decline in the number of British nationals coming forward and an increasingly volatile situation on the ground near the airstrip.

However, two extra flights were laid on for Monday, with those wanting to leave the country told to make their way to Port Sudan, more than 500 miles east of the capital, by 11am UK time — midday in Sudan — if they wanted to be processed in time for the flight.

Following the final Royal Air Force (RAF) repatriation flights, a UK team will continue to be based at Port Sudan to provide consular assistance, including to British nationals leaving by commercial routes, the FCDO said.

The number of people brought back to the UK on the last flights is expected to be declared on Tuesday, with the rescue figure standing at 2,197 as of 5.30pm on Monday.

International development minister Andrew Mitchell was in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi over the weekend as British diplomatic efforts focus on securing a peace deal.

Mr Mitchell met with Kenyan President William Samoei Ruto and African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat to discuss the conflict.

The UK ambassador to Sudan was deployed to Addis Ababa on Thursday to support the Government’s regional response to the conflict, based out of the British Embassy in Ethiopia.

Officials said the UK is exploring options to provide effective humanitarian assistance to people in Sudan, in close coordination with international partners, the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.

The Foreign Office described the UK as a “committed donor” to Sudan, having spent more than £250 million in humanitarian aid in the last five years.

It follows international hope that an internationally-brokered ceasefire could be reached.

The UN said the rival generals, Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan and General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), had agreed to send representatives to the negotiation table in a bid to establish a more stable truce.

Generals Burhan and Dagalo, both with powerful foreign backers, were allies in an October 2021 military coup that halted Sudan’s fraught transition to democracy, but they have since turned on each other.

Published: by Radio NewsHub