Sudan crisis: Last UK evacuation plane completes rescue mission

  • By Paul Adams & Charlie Adams
  • Diplomatic Correspondent

image source, UK Ministry of Defence

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Some 1,888 British nationals have been rescued from Sudan, the government said

The evacuation of people from Sudan has been “very successful”, a government minister has said, as the UK ends its evacuation operation.

The last flight left the capital Khartoum at 22:00 local time (21:00 BST) on Saturday, the Foreign Office said.

“We cannot always be there in dangerous situations like this,” Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell said.

A 72-hour ceasefire broke on Saturday as armed factions stepped up their battle for the capital.

Bombs and heavy artillery are targeting parts of Khartoum, while Sudan’s military says it is attacking the city from all directions to try to drive out the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the country since fighting broke out in Sudan two weeks ago.

The death toll is thought to be much higher than the most recent official figure of 459, and the United Nations fears hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced if the conflict continues.

Other countries are frantically evacuating their citizens, with some fleeing through unofficial routes by boat and bus.

1,888 people were evacuated on 21 flights and the government said it would “no longer operate evacuation flights”.

The UK government, which began evacuations last Tuesday, has faced criticism for not acting quickly enough to help its citizens after other European countries began air travel to save hundreds.

It faced pressure to evacuate only British nationals and exclude NHS doctors – but later decided to do a U-turn and allow them to board flights.

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British nationals have been deported to Cyprus before traveling to the UK

Last weekend, special forces were sent to evict British diplomats from Khartoum after a fight broke out around the embassy, ​​but British passport holders would only be rescued days later.

Speaking to the BBC in Nairobi, Mr Mitchell said it was right that the evacuation flights would end.

“I don’t think there’s a single Briton in Khartoum who doesn’t know about the evacuation and the flow of people to the airport, indicating that it’s right,” he told the BBC.

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WATCH: Child meets father for first time after being deported to UK from Sudan

“The UK government is considering every option to help British citizens caught up in this terrible crisis,” he said.

He added that he was concerned that the situation could become “incredibly serious” in the absence of a permanent ceasefire.

“The whole international system is looking at ways to stop this fighting,” he said, adding that “two generals are making it dull for power”.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Britain’s Sudan evacuation was “the largest of any Western country”.

Millions of people are trapped in Khartoum, where food, water and fuel are scarce.

image source, UK Ministry of Defence

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The families were able to escape war-torn Sudan with the support of the British military.

More than 20 NHS doctors, despite having UK work permits, were initially told they would not be able to board the flights because they were not British citizens.

After the plight of Sudanese doctor Dr. Abdulrahman Babikar came to light, he changed his mind. The fight broke out when he visited relatives in Sudan for Eid.

He was initially denied a place on the British evacuation flight, but after contacting the media and his MP, the criteria were broadened and he was allowed to join. He landed in England on Saturday afternoon.

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