Sudanese army allows evacuation of foreigners
Decision comes after rival leader promises to open airports; Clashes continue despite ceasefire agreement
The Sudanese Army said this Saturday (April 22, 2023) that it will help evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats from the country. The statement by the Army general and president of the country, Abdul Fattah Burhancomes after the vice-president and leader of the paramilitary group RSF (Rapid Support Forces) Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo promise to open airports that are under the control of the group.
On Friday (April 21), the 2 leaders agreed to a ceasefire due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr (celebration that marks the end of the Ramadan fast), which lasts for 3 days. However, explosions and gunfire continued in Khartoum, the country’s capital, on Saturday. Since the beginning of the conflict, on April 15, several ceasefire agreements have been reached, but none have worked.
With the escalation of the conflict, the main routes out of the country are closed, which makes rescue operations difficult. The international airport near Khartoum is frequently bombed and land routes are a dangerous route.
Some Saudi citizens and diplomats were evacuated from Sudan through Port Sudan, the country’s main seaport on the Red Sea. The port is 840 km from Khartoum. This is the route that must be used for the withdrawal of other foreigners who are still in the country.
Because of the long journey to Port Sudan and the risks of crossing the country in the midst of conflict, the US embassy has already warned Americans that it could not help with the transfer from Khartoum to Port Sudan. Thus, the trip to leave the country would be at the risk and expense of the individuals.
The RSF is pursuing Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the general who has ruled Sudan since 2021. Both worked together to overthrow the civilian government at the time. They held positions on a council that governs the country in a temporary regime to oversee the political transition after the 2021 coup that intended to return the country to a civilian government and merge the RSF with the army.
The clashes began suddenly and, so far, neither side seems to have a chance for a short-term victory or is interested in retreating to talk. The Army has air power, but the RSF has control of large urban areas in the Sudanese capital.
In a week of conflict, the WHO (World Health Organization) counts about 413 deaths and more than 3,500 people injured. Among the dead are 4 UN employees who worked in the country on humanitarian aid missions, distributing food and water. With the death of the employees, humanitarian aid was stopped.
Despite the risks, according to the UN, around 20,000 people have managed to leave the conflict zone and reach neighboring Chad by land since the beginning of the confrontation.