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Sudan: Final UK Evacuation Flight Leaves the Country

The final UK evacuation flight has now left Sudan, the government has announced.

It had said previously the last flight would leave on Wednesday, with British officials who have been working on the evacuation expected to be on board.

An update by the Foreign Office said the last flight had left Port Sudan and that no more would be running.

The airlift – which began amid a tentative ceasefire last week – has seen more than 2,300 people rescued.

Those taken to safety included Britons, their dependents, Sudanese NHS staff and other eligible nationalities.

A renewed 72-hour ceasefire was due to end at midnight local time on Wednesday. The Foreign Office had warned that, following the end of the agreement, violence in the country could escalate.

Dozens of people were evacuated on flights that left Sudan on Wednesday.

The country – the third largest in Africa – was plunged into crisis after fighting broke out between rival military factions on 15 April.

Hundreds have been killed, according to official figures, but it is feared the actual death toll is much higher, and tens of thousands have already been displaced in a growing humanitarian crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK’s focus would shift to providing humanitarian aid, though he warned that any continuing conflict was likely to impede relief efforts.

“We have given aid to Sudan, we are giving support to countries in the region, we will continue to push for an extension of the ceasefire and a permanent end to the conflict because that is the best way to maximise the effectiveness of our humanitarian support,” he said.

Foreign Office advice for British nationals still hoping to leave Sudan is that unscheduled chartered ships will be operating from Port Sudan to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

It also states that British Embassy staff remain temporarily available on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Sudan border to provide support.

The UK government joined other countries in evacuating citizens from Sudan after the commercial airport was taken out of action by fighting and communication networks went down.

Initial evacuation flights organised by the British military left from an airstrip close to the capital Khartoum, but the operation was moved to the eastern coastal city of Port Sudan, which has been less affected by fighting.

Despite criticism the UK government was slow to start its evacuation, the Foreign Office says it has now overseen “the longest and largest operation of any Western nation”.

Diplomats were also rescued in an earlier operation involving special forces after fighting broke out around the embassy.

Source : BBC