Nations hurry evacuations from Sudan, some foreign citizens injured

A child looks on as Jordanian citizens and other nationals who were evacuated from Sudan, arrive at Marka Military Airport, in Amman, Jordan April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Alaa Al Sukhni

The armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom evacuated embassy personnel from Sudan, while other nations raced to evacuate their citizens as rival military factions clashed in Khartoum on Sunday.

Since the outbreak of fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group eight days ago, 420 people have been killed, and millions of Sudanese are without access to essential services.

As people attempted to escape the chaos, countries began landing planes and organizing convoys to evacuate their nationals from Khartoum. Some international nationals were hurt. According to a Reuters correspondent, gunfire rang across the city, and dark smoke hung.

Both parties accused the other of attacking a French convoy, claiming one person was injured. The French Foreign Ministry, which had previously stated that diplomatic personnel and citizens would be evacuated, declined to comment.

A French plane carrying approximately one hundred people, including the European Union delegation in Khartoum and other nationalities, has departed for Djibouti. A second plane carrying a similar number is scheduled to depart momentarily.

Army allegations that the RSF pillaged a Qatari convoy en route to Port Sudan also indicate the dangers involved. In separate incidents, a citizen of Iraq was slain during clashes, and an Egyptian diplomat was injured.

Some Sudanese were dissatisfied with the rival factions' lack of concern for the safety of locals, as evidenced by the efforts to expel foreign citizens.

Alsadig Alfatih, who could leave his home on Sunday for the first time since the fighting broke out, said he would travel to Egypt. "Seeing the foreigners leave made me upset because I saw that some groups were helped by the army and RSF, while we continue to be attacked," he said.

Pope Appeals

The Sudanese army stated that it collaborated with the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France on evacuation operations of Wadi Sedna, an air base north of Khartoum. According to the army, Qatar and Jordan conducted their operations to Port Sudan via land.

Premier Justin Trudeau stated that Canada had also withdrawn its diplomats and attempted to assist its local staff.

Egypt, India, Nigeria, and Libya were among the nations that claimed to be working to repatriate their citizens.

Pope Francis pleaded to end the violence during the Sunday midday prayer in Rome.

Four years after long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir was deposed, fighting broke out in Khartoum and other regions on April 15.

In 2021, the army and RSF staged a coup but fell out during negotiations to establish a civilian government.

On Saturday, U.S. officials reported that their special forces evacuated fewer than 100 individuals in an operation that lasted less than an hour on the ground.

"No small arms fire was encountered on the way in, and we were able to exit without incident," said Lieutenant General Douglas Sims.

Ceasefire Breached

Sudan's sudden descent into warfare has thwarted efforts to restore civilian rule, pushed an already impoverished nation to the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, and posed the risk of a wider conflict that could draw in foreign powers.

Beyond Khartoum, reports of the worst violence have emanated from Darfur, a western region bordering Chad that saw 300,000 people killed and 2.7 million displaced during a 2003 conflict.

The army commanded by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, have violated almost daily ceasefires, including a three-day truce for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that began on Friday.

For the first time since the beginning of the combat, a video was posted showing Hemedti in battle attire riding in the passenger seat of a pick-up truck near Khartoum's presidential palace.

Burhan stated on Monday that he was headquartered at the army headquarters in central Khartoum, approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the palace.

Over the past two days in Bahri, where the army has employed both ground troops and air strikes in an effort to drive back the RSF, fighting has continued around the army's headquarters and the airport, which has been closed as a result.

The RSF reported on Sunday that its forces were targeted by airstrikes in the Kafouri district of Bahri, resulting in scores of casualties.

According to a Reuters reporter, RSF forces were widely deployed on the streets and bridges of the capital, with army troops visible in parts of Omdurman. The majority of neighborhoods were devoid of civilians and ordinary life.

A Reuters-verified video showed a main market on fire in Bahri. Residents have reported plundering in the area containing industrial zones with significant flour mills.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, described multiple deadly attacks on health facilities. "Oftentimes, paramedics, frontline nurses, and doctors are unable to access the injured, and the injured are unable to reach medical facilities," he tweeted.

Sunday, the WHO retweeted a post from the Sudanese Ministry of Health stating that at least 420 people had been slain and 3,700 injured thus far in the conflict.

Publish : 2023-04-24 10:55:00

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