Wednesday, November 1, 2023

US Diplomats and Families Evacuated from Sudan by RSF


Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has claimed that it coordinated with US forces to evacuate US diplomats and their families from the country. The RSF stated that it had “coordinated with the US Forces Mission consisting of 6 aircraft, for evacuating diplomats and their families on Sunday morning”. The RSF also pledged “full cooperation with all diplomatic missions, and providing all necessary means of protection, and ensuring their safe return to their countries”. The US military has yet to comment on the operation. More than 150 people from various nations were evacuated to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, including diplomats and international officials. However, foreign nations are preparing for the potential evacuation of thousands more of their nationals, even though Sudan’s main airport remains closed. Fighting between the army and paramilitaries has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded, with shortages of electricity and food adding to the crisis.

The army, under Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the rival RSF, headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, have failed to observe ceasefires agreed almost daily since hostilities broke out on April 15. The situation is dire, particularly with the lack of access to food and stray gunfire. Matthew Majok, a student in Khartoum, told Al Jazeera that “we want to leave this country for safety. We’ve heard the situation is going to be worse in some days to come. I think we will not survive this one, we want to get out”. Fighting on Saturday breached what was meant to be a three-day truce from Friday to allow citizens to reach safety and visit family during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Both sides accused the other of not respecting the truce.

The United Nations and foreign states have urged the rival military leaders to honour declared ceasefires, open safe passage for civilians fleeing the fighting and allow the supply of badly needed food and medical aid. Khaled Ahmed Idris, a director at Omdurman Teaching Hospital in the north of Khartoum, told Al Jazeera that there was a serious shortage of medical personnel, and those currently working were those at the hospital when fighting broke out last week. The hospital is operating at just 20 percent capacity due to fighting preventing staff from reaching the facility. “There is no longer any way to bring other medical staff from their homes or areas to the hospital. Of course, the doctors and nurses that have been here since last Saturday are completely exhausted”.

Western countries are expected to send planes for their citizens from Djibouti, though the Sudanese army has said airports in Khartoum and Darfur’s biggest city Nyala are problematic and it was not clear when that might be possible. One foreign diplomat who asked not to be identified said some diplomatic staff in Khartoum were hoping for evacuation by air from Port Sudan in the next two days.

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