Nearly 500 flee Sudan for Saudi Arabia on two ships

AFP , Tuesday 2 May 2023

Nearly 500 people arrived Monday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia aboard two vessels, one a US ship and the other Saudi, after fleeing the fighting in Sudan.

Sudan evacuees
Evacuees board a tugboat at Port Sudan on April 30, 2023 during a rescue operation carried out by the Saudi navy. AFP


The US Navy's USS Brunswick arrived in the Saudi Red Sea port Monday carrying 308 people, according to Al-Ekhbariya TV, which showed images of numerous passengers wearing red shirts inscribed "US Embassy."

There were 105 Americans in total on the vessel, 100 Sudanese and others from 15 countries, officials told AFP, insisting on anonymity.

The Saudi vessel evacuated 171 from Sudan, including 41 Saudis and nationals of other countries, including Britain and the United States, according to SPA, the Saudi state news agency.

They were all part of a broader exodus that has seen more than 5,000 people seek refuge in the Gulf kingdom since fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15.

The United States conducted three overland convoys in as many days to help people flee the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, where a number of vessels have helped them flee the fighting.

"These convoys have assisted over 700 individuals," said US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel.

Aside from the three convoys, Patel said US officials have helped nearly 1,000 Americans escape the spreading conflict in Sudan.

He said they are being taken to Jeddah and other cities in the region like Djibouti and Nicosia.

The evacuation took place amid a very tentative cease-fire between two battling factions of the country's armed forces.

"Intensive negotiations by the US with the support of our regional and international partners enabled the security conditions that have allowed the departure of thousands of foreign and US citizens, including through today's operation," Patel said.

"We continue to call on Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces to end the fighting that is endangering all civilians," he said.

As of Monday, Saudi Arabia had received more than 5,400 civilian evacuees from Sudan, including 225 Saudis and foreigners from 102 countries, SPA said.

Millions of Sudanese, unable to leave, are hunkering down amid heavy fighting between the forces of army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The fighting has killed more than 500 people, displaced tens of thousands and triggered an exodus of foreigners and international staff.

Gun battles and explosions again rocked the capital Monday, with warplanes flying sorties and striking northern areas of Khartoum.

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