Sudan’s army said it will facilitate the evacuation of foreigners trapped in the country since an internal conflict erupted last weekend but diplomats played down suggestions that departures were imminent.
Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces had received calls from several leaders who asked that he aid the repatriation of their nationals and he had agreed, the army said in a statement on Saturday. The Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group which has been fighting the military, on Friday also gave assurances that it would support the process.
A group of Saudi nationals has already left the country through Port Sudan, and a Jordanian group will follow suit, while the evacuation of other foreigners “is expected to begin in the coming hours,” the army said. “The US, Britain, France and China will evacuate their diplomats and patrons by air with military transport aircraft.”
The US embassy in Sudan said that despite the start of a three-day cease-fire there was ongoing fighting, gunfire, and security forces activity in Khartoum, the capital, as well as reports of assaults, home invasions and looting. It advised US citizens to remain indoors and shelter in place until further notice and avoid traveling to the U.S. embassy.
“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,” the embassy said in a statement on its website.
Two diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to comment, said the safe passage of foreign nationals was still being negotiated and the army may be using the process to burnish its image. One of the diplomats said convoys were seen moving toward the international airport in Khartoum and that some United Nations staff and citizens from several nations were aboard. A UK government spokesman said the situation was “extremely concerning.”
The Philippines is facing a “big problem,” in evacuation hundreds of its nationals trapped in Sudan, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Saturday.
“None of the airports are functioning. They are still under fire,” Marcos. “Also, we can’t ascertain a secure land route for them to leave. It’s a long road from Khartoum to Cairo,” where the Philippine embassy is located, he said.
At least 413 people have died in the fighting and almost 3,551 have been wounded, according to the World Health Organization, and many people have run short of food, water and other essentials. While the violence has subsided since the ceasefire was agreed on Friday, although sporadic sounds of gunfire and explosions could still be heard in Khartoum.
The conflict was the culmination of a long-simmering struggle between the army and the RSF and has stalled plans for a power-sharing government that was supposed to lead the north African nation of about 45 million people to democratic elections after a 2021 coup.