Saudi announces first civilian evacuations from Sudan

AFP , Saturday 22 Apr 2023

More than 150 people, including foreign diplomats and officials, rescued from battle-scarred Sudan arrived Saturday in Jeddah, the Saudi foreign ministry said, in the first announced evacuation of civilians since fighting began.

Evacuations of Saudis from Sudan
A Photo grap from video posted on Al Arabiya TV channel shows the first evacuation vessel from Sudan that has arrived Jeedah port carrying 50 Saudi citizen and others from different countries


The evacuation was carried out by the kingdom's naval forces with the support of other branches of the army, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It announced the "safe arrival" of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries -- Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philipines, Canada and Burkina Faso.

The foreigners included "diplomats and (government) officials", the ministry said without giving further details.

Saudi Arabia "worked to provide all the necessary needs of foreign nationals" ahead of their departure to their respective countries, the statement added.

Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya television released several videos of warships approaching Jeddah's port on Saturday.

The evacuees were received by officials and soldiers who distributed sweets on the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, footage showed.

Women and children holding Saudi flags were also seen getting off one of the ships.

Among those who arrived in Jeddah on Saturday was the crew of a Saudi passenger plane that was hit by gunfire while preparing to take off from Khartoum at the start of the fighting on April 15, according to Al-Ekhbariya.

The broadcaster said that the evacuees were transported in a convoy of vehicles to Port Sudan from where they boarded ships to Jeddah.

It was the first evacuation of civilians from Sudan since violence erupted there a week ago.

Earlier on Saturday, Sudan's army said its chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had received calls from leaders of several countries to "facilitate and guarantee safety for evacuating citizens and diplomatic missions".

It noted that the evacuations are expected to begin "in the coming hours", adding that the United States, Britain, France and China are planning to airlift their nationals out of Khartoum using military jets.

Clashes erupted on April 15 between forces loyal to Burhan and those of his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The former allies seized power in a 2021 coup but later fell out in a bitter power struggle.

The conflict -- much of which has taken place in Khartoum -- has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded.

Heavy gunfire, loud explosions, and fighter jets roared in many parts of the capital Saturday morning, according to witnesses.

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