Sudan fighting: Diplomats and foreigners expelled

  • By Lawrence Peter & Tiffany Wertheimer
  • BBC News, London

image caption,

Saudi Arabia welcomed the evacuees at the Jeddah seaport on Saturday with sweets and roses

As heavy fighting continues in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, several countries have expelled diplomats and citizens.

The US and UK announced on Sunday that they had airlifted evacuees out of the country.

Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Japan and the Netherlands said they would follow suit, with operations starting on Sunday.

A French convoy was reportedly fired upon as it tried to leave the embassy and had to turn back.

Sudan’s regular army and its opponents – a paramilitary force known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – blamed each other for the attack.

French officials who spoke to the BBC declined to comment on whether an attack had taken place – but they said the French military in Djibouti was involved in the operation and that the aim was to transport evacuees to Djibouti.

France’s foreign ministry said it would also expel its citizens and those of other EU and allied countries.

More than 150 people from Gulf countries, Egypt, Pakistan and Canada were evacuated by sea to the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah.

US officials said fewer than 100 people were picked up by Chinook helicopters on Sunday morning in a “quick and clean” operation.

Although there is no formal ceasefire, the RSF appears to have agreed not to fire on US helicopters during their missions.

The U.S. embassy in Khartoum is now closed, and a tweet on its official feed says it’s not safe enough for the government to evacuate private U.S. citizens.

The UK has set up a hotline for those in need of emergency assistance, and UK citizens in Sudan are being urged to inform the Foreign Office of their whereabouts.

The Canadian government has told citizens remaining in Sudan to “stay in a safe place”, charge their phones, lock doors and windows and “leave the country if there is a safe way to do so”.

Meanwhile, there are reports of an almost complete collapse of Internet connectivity in Sudan, which could seriously hamper aid coordination for those trapped in Khartoum and other cities.

The power struggle saw heavy bombings in the capital, killing hundreds and injuring thousands.

Desperate calls for help have come from many foreign students from Africa, Asia and the Middle East stranded in Khartoum, home to nearly six million people.

Continued shooting and bombing in Khartoum and elsewhere has cut off electricity and safe access to food and water for most people.

Several ceasefires agreed to by both sides have been ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which began on Friday.

Some UK nationals stranded in Sudan have expressed frustration and concern over the lack of airlifts.

Iman Abu Garga, a Briton, said he registered himself and his two children as he traveled to Khartoum and was instructed “after that – nothing”.

“We don’t know anything about the time scale or the timeframe. We don’t know what it’s going to be like. Are we going to be airlifted out of Khartoum airport? Do we have to go by road? It’s absolutely disgusting. No human contact whatsoever,” she complained.

Along with Khartoum, the western part of Darfur, where the RSF first emerged, has also been badly affected by the fighting.

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.

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WATCH: Shocking sound of heavy explosion in Sudan capital Khartoum

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