UK becomes latest nation to launch evacuation flights from Sudan

By on 26/04/2023 | Updated on 26/04/2023
A photograph of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, taken in 2017. Photo Christopher Michel, reproduced under Creative Commons
A photograph of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, taken in 2017. Photo Christopher Michel, reproduced under Creative Commons

The UK government has joined a number of other nations in launching repatriation flights for citizens in Sudan in response to unrest between rival military factions in the country.

The UK joins countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain in withdrawing nationals from the country amid fighting in the capital Khartoum in recent weeks. Many other nations, including the US and Canada, have withdrawn their diplomats and other government officials.

UK military flights are due to depart from an airfield outside Khartoum, supported by senior diplomats from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, with the first taking place yesterday evening.

Flights will be open to those with British passports and priority will be given to family groups with children and/or the elderly or individuals with medical conditions.

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Initially, citizens were told to wait to be contacted by the UK government, but this advice has now changed, with the government now advising British nationals in Sudan to make their way to the airfield.

The work by nations to evacuate staff comes amid a ceasefire between the military and paramilitaries that appears to be holding.

The army is fighting a group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). According to the United Nations, the warring factions had worked together since the ousting of long-term ruler Omar al-Bashir, four years ago, carrying out a military coup in a joint operation in 2021 which ended a military-civilian power sharing agreement.

However, in recent months as negotiations over a return to civilian rule have advanced, the two factions failed to agree an integration plan, on the road to the formation of a civilian government.

The UN has also relocated staff from Khartoum amid the violence, and in a statement released on Monday, UN secretary general António Guterres said the organisation would “stand with and work for the Sudanese people”.

In a statement earlier this week, he said: “Let me be clear: the United Nations is not leaving Sudan. Our commitment is to the Sudanese people, in support of their wishes for a peaceful and secure future. We stand with them, at this terrible time.”

The violence risks “a catastrophic conflagration within Sudan, that could engulf the whole region and beyond”, he said.

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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