This picture shows people being evacuated from war-torn Sudan. — APP

This picture shows people being evacuated from war-torn Sudan. — APP
  • The 427 citizens will be repatriated through special flights.
  • PM Shehbaz personally monitored evacuation plans: PMO.
  • Foreign nations evacuating nationals from war-torn country.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Monday that the government’s plan to evacuate Pakistanis stranded in war-hit Sudan was successful after 427 citizens reached Port Sudan for onward repatriation through special flights.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was personally monitoring the emergency plan for the evacuation of Pakistani nationals during the last 72 hours, according to the statement.

The PMO added that the evacuated Pakistanis who were being repatriated to Pakistan through special flights were provided accommodation and food by the government.

The diplomatic missions of Pakistan and other countries in the region were supporting Pakistan in the evacuation process.

The prime minister lauded the efforts of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar, foreign ministry officers and Pakistan’s ambassador in Sudan.

He particularly appreciated the military authorities and other relevant people for their expertise and dutifulness in formulating an effective evacuation plan and its successful implementation.

He also expressed gratitude to Air Chief Marshal Zaheed Ahmed Baber Sidhu and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Nadeem Anjum for their special efforts in the evacuation process which involved multiple challenges and risks.

The government authorities evacuated the Pakistani nations through safe routes and they were being moved in small groups from Khartoum to safe locations.

The prime minister thanked the leadership of Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and Egypt for extending support for the evacuation of Pakistani nationals.

The measures for the protection of the stranded Pakistani nationals in Sudan were being constantly monitored and Pakistan’s embassy was also in constant contact with them.

The embassy had also established a helpline where the stranded Pakistanis can contact for any help or guidance.

This would be the second batch of Pakistanis evacuated from the country as an unknown number of Pakistanis left Khartoum in a Saudi Arabian-arranged operation last week. 

Humanitarian crisis

The sudden eruption of violence between the military and the well-armed Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group on April 15 triggered a humanitarian crisis and killed 420 people.

Along with millions of Sudanese without access to basic services and trapped in their homes, thousands of foreign diplomats, aid workers, students and their families found themselves stuck in a war zone last week.

Fighter jets have bombed the capital, the main airport has been at the centre of fighting and artillery barrages have made movement unsafe in and out of one of Africa’s largest cities. Diplomats have been targeted in attacks, and at least five aid workers killed.

Despite sustained pressure from countries concerned by the conflict’s wider repercussions as well as the safety of their nationals, the two sides have not abided by a temporary truce.

Spanish diplomatic personnel and citizens wait to disembark a military plane after they were evacuated from Sudan, in Djibouti, Djibouti, April 24, 2023. —Reuters
Spanish diplomatic personnel and citizens wait to disembark a military plane after they were evacuated from Sudan, in Djibouti, Djibouti, April 24, 2023. —Reuters

However fighting calmed enough over the weekend for the United States to get embassy staff out by military helicopter, triggering a rush of evacuations by other countries.

At least two convoys involved in the evacuations came under attack, including one carrying Qatari embassy staff, and another carrying French citizens, one of whom was injured.

France and Germany on Monday said they had evacuated around 700 people, without giving a breakdown of their nationalities. A German air force plane carrying evacuees landed in Berlin early on Monday.

Several countries sent military planes from Djibouti to fly people out from the capital, while other operations took people by convoy to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is about 800 km (500 miles) by road from Khartoum. From there some have boarded ships to Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia said so far more than 500 of its citizens had been evacuated to the port, and were awaiting transport to Jeddah, across the Red Sea.

China, Denmark, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden also said they had got nationals out, while Japan said it was preparing to send an evacuation team from Djibouti.

A convoy of about 65 vehicles carrying some 700 international United Nations, NGO and embassy staff and their dependents drove from Khartoum to Port Sudan on Sunday as part of the evacuations, a diplomatic source said.

The evacuation of international staff from Darfur, the western region where fighting has also escalated, is also under way, with some heading to Chad and others to South Sudan, the source said.

The fighting in Sudan has closed most hospitals and curtailed water and electricity supplies. The killing of aid workers, including three from the World Food Programme, has led the U.N. agency to pause its operations in the country, which relies on food aid for about a quarter of its people.

The army and RSF jointly staged a coup in 2021 but fell out during negotiations to integrate the two groups and form a civilian government four years after long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled.

Their rivalry has raised the risk of a wider conflict that could draw in outside powers.

Beyond the capital, people are reported to have fled clashes in several regions including Darfur’s three states, Blue Nile State on the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, and North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum, according to a UN update on Monday.

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