First flight of Brits rushed out of Sudan lands in UK as tense ceasefire holds for families to flee bloodbath Khartoum | The Sun

First flight of Brits rushed out of Sudan lands in UK as tense ceasefire holds for families to flee bloodbath Khartoum | The Sun

April 26, 2023

THE first flight carrying Brit nationals from Sudan landed in the UK today as a fragile ceasefire holds for families to flee the bloodbath.

A desperate race against time is still underway to rescue thousands of trapped Brits after 301 were evacuated on emergency military airlift flights from Sudan.

Another RAF flight is preparing to depart the Wadi Saeedna airstrip near the capital of Khartoum on Wednesday afternoon, with a further three flights expected later in the day.

The clock is ticking as the 72-hour ceasefire window which opened yesterday is rapidly closing while Brit forces attempt to help some 4,000 UK civilians.

Brit commandos are expected to seize control of Wadi Saeedna Air Base – a military landing strip being used for the evacuation Germany wrapped up their own operation, with 700 people rescued.

Some 1,400 Brit servicemen are involved in the Sudan evacuation mission which has been described as even more difficult than the frantic escape from Afghanistan's capital Kabul in 2021.


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UK nationals are now being urged to make their own way to the airstrip – and so face running a gauntlet of chaos and bloodshed through war-torn Khartoum.

Wadi Saeedna Air Base in 14 miles north of the bombed out city – with sporadic gunfire still being heard amid the ruined streets.

And with just 48 hours left before full fighting resumes, there is growing criticism over how the UK Government has handled the evacuation.

Foreign Office officials had yesterday urged people to not make their way to the airport unless called – but that guidance appears to have changed.

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Samar Eltayeb, from Birmingham, a medical student in Khartoum, compared the conditions to the movie The Purge – which features a society where lawlessness and murder run rife.

"It was so terrifying. The sounds kept getting louder and it was as if they were right outside the dorm," she told Sky News.

The student explained she is trapped and unable to reach to the airfield as there is no petrol for their cars.

She added: "There'll be constant flights within the next few days, but if I can't find gas to get there, then I'm stuck."

Brit families have been left trapped in the city, unable to reach Wadi Saeedna.

Wathig Ali, a British citizen in Khartoum, along with his son, 6, and pregnant wife said the situation is "extremely hostile".

"Our worst fear is the bombing and the checkpoints on the way to the airport. We have been stuck indoors for days," he said.

Brit charity worker Yasmin Sholgami told the BBC her grandparents are trapped in Khartoum without food and water.

She explained every time relatives have tried to reach their own they've been shot at by snipers.

"Little does the government know that there are many areas in the centre of Khartoum that are too dangerous to leave your house without help from some sort of official," said Yasmin.

Brit freedom flights using Hercules and Atlas military transport planes are running a loop from Khartoum to Cyprus.

Royal Navy commandos and SAS special forces are on the ground helping to secure the airfield and will protect the base if it comes under attack.

The Government is considering other options for the evacuation, including a possible seaborne evacuation from Port Sudan, some 500 miles from Khartoum.

And meanwhile, Type-23 frigate HMS Lancaster is on alert and ready to steam towards Sudan.

The East African nation has been torn apart by warring factions over the last two weeks.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on Wednesday morning that 200 to 300 people had been brought out so far – and defended the UK's response to the crisis.

She said: "We are now commencing an extensive operation, working with over 1,000 personnel from the RAF and the armed forces."

British citizens, dual nationals and their dependents are being forced to make their own way to the evacuation base.

The Government had to cope with a "larger cohort of British nationals in Sudan compared to many other countries", insisted Ms Braverman.

Announcing the completion of Germany's evacuation efforts, the country's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not leave civilians "to their own devices", in an apparent swipe at the UK's approach.

She said that "unlike in other countries", Germany's evacuation had included all its nationals and not just embassy staff.

SAS troops evacuated UK diplomatic officials on Sunday in a daring rescue mission.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was "right" that diplomats were prioritised "because they were being targeted".

The wider evacuation was launched during a ceasefire brokered between the warring factions.

But Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned the extraction of UK nationals is "inherently dangerous" as "we cannot be sure for how long it will hold".

Families with children or elderly relatives, or individuals with medical conditions, will be prioritised for the flights.

Only British passport holders and immediate family members with existing UK entry clearance are being told they are eligible.

Nationals have been warned all travel within Sudan is "conducted at your own risk".

The ceasefire between Sudan's warring generals came into effect on Tuesday.

The country has been rocked by 10 days of urban combat which has killed more than 400, wounded thousands, and sparked a mass exodus of foreigners.

The United States and European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian nations launched emergency missions to bring to safety their embassy staff and Sudan-based citizens by road, air and sea.

But millions of Sudanese are unable to flee what is one of the world's poorest countries, with a history of military coups.

They are trying to survive acute shortages of water, food, medicine and fuel as well as power and internet blackouts.

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to the ceasefire "following intense negotiations", Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement shortly before the truce took effect last night.

Previous bids to pause the conflict failed to take hold, but both sides confirmed they had agreed to the three-day halt.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned earlier that Sudan was on "the edge of the abyss" and that the violence "could engulf the whole region and beyond".

The fighting has pitted forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against those of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the RSF.

With Khartoum airport disabled after battles that left charred aircraft on the tarmac, many foreigners were airlifted from smaller airstrips to countries including Djibouti and Jordan.

More than a dozen passenger jets were damaged on the tarmac when clashes erupted at the commercial airport.

Experts have long drawn links between the RSF and Russian mercenary group Wagner. Blinken earlier on Monday voiced "deep concern" that Wagner risked aggravating the war in Sudan.

The military toppled Bashir in April 2019 following mass citizen protests that raised hopes for a transition to democracy.

The two generals seized power in the 2021 coup, but later fell out, most recently over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.

Those Sudanese who can afford to are also fleeing Khartoum on crowded buses for the more than 900-kilometre desert drive north to Egypt.

Among the 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who previously fled civil war in their own country, some are choosing to return, with women and children crossing the border, said the UN refugee agency.

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