Scramble to evacuate foreign diplomats and nationals from Sudan as fighting mars Eid truce

Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (File photo: Netherlands Ministry of Defence)


As fighting continues in and around Khartoum, countries including Jordan, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea, and Greece, are racing against time to evacuate their citizens from Sudan. Others continue to advise their nationals to ‘shelter in place’. However a statement today by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) assures that diplomats and nationals from the UK, US, France, and China will be evacuated by air “in the coming hours”.

Hostilities have now entered their second week, and the sound of gunfire and explosions can still be heard in and around Khartoum, in spite of a three-day truce announced by the opposing SAF and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), to coincide with Eid El Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The clashes flared-up again this morning, and reportedly intensified in Khartoum 2.

In Khartoum, the official spokesperson for the Sudanese army, Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah, said that foreign missions will be evacuated in the coming hours. Jordan has begun implementing a plan to evacuate nearly 300 Jordanians from Sudanese territory, under directive of the King of Jordan, while the Hungarian Foreign Minister announced the evacuation of 14 Hungarians and 48 others, mostly Americans and Italians, from Sudan to Egypt.

‘Shelter in place’

The US embassy in Khartoum said that while large convoys are leaving Khartoum towards Port Sudan, the embassy is unable to provide assistance, that the evacuation of American nationals from Sudan is not safe at present. “US citizens are strongly advised to remain indoors, shelter in place until further notice, and avoid travel to the US embassy,” a security alert in a pinned tweet says.  “The US embassy remains under a shelter in place order and cannot provide emergency consular services,” it says.

“Due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and closure of the airport, it is not currently safe to undertake a US government-coordinated evacuation of private US citizens. There is incomplete information about significant convoys departing Khartoum traveling towards Port Sudan. The embassy is unable to assist convoys. Traveling in any convoy is at your own risk.”

South Korean media reports that a military transport aircraft has been sent to Djibouti to evacuate South Korean nationals from Sudan to Seoul. The Greek foreign minister also says that he has discussed the coordination of evacuations of his country’s citizens with the European Union’s foreign policy commissioner.

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced coordination with Arab countries for the safe evacuation of the Iraqi nationals in Sudan, who number about 300 people.

Successful evacuations

According to the Saudi news channel, a number of Saudi nationals and citizens of other countries arrived in Jeddah today after being evacuated from Sudan. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the evacuation of 91 of its citizens and 66 nationals of other countries from Sudan, and said that they included diplomats. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that its citizens who were stranded in Sudan have arrived in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, in preparation for their transfer to Kuwait.

According to the Dutch public broadcaster NOS, the Netherlands is preparing “with all its might” for an evacuation of Dutch citizens from Sudan. 134 people have now been called to ask if they want to join a departure organised by the government. They have been advised to pack a bag in advance.

At time of posting, it was not yet clear when there is a chance to leave the country. “At the moment it is not possible,” the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “The security situation does not allow an evacuation. We cannot predict how it will go. It can take a long time, or suddenly go very fast. It is clear that no option is without risk.”

The Dutch ambassador to Sudan, Irma van Dueren, is in Jordan with employees of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, where two military transport aircraft are standing by. “From there, they maintain contact with Dutch nationals in Sudan and prepare for all scenarios,” the embassy says.

The British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has urged British nationals in Sudan to register their presence to receive updates from the FCDO. “You should also stay up to date with the FCDO Travel Advice by signing up to e-mail alerts,” the FCDO travel alert says.