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400 Pakistanis Safely Evacuated from Sudan, More Relief Efforts Underway: Foreign Office

More than 400 Pakistanis have arrived safely at Port Sudan and are being accommodated before their onward journey is arranged, according to the Foreign Office.

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

On Monday, the Foreign Office announced that over 400 Pakistanis had arrived safely at Port Sudan and were being accommodated while waiting for arrangements to be made for their onward journey. The Foreign Office is in contact with Pakistan’s missions in the region to provide assistance to Pakistani nationals. Last week, an unknown number of Pakistanis left Khartoum in an evacuation operation arranged by Saudi Arabia. This is the second batch of Pakistani nationals to be evacuated from Sudan.

The Foreign Secretary, Asad Majeed Khan, held a virtual meeting a few days ago with Pakistan’s missions in Sudan and neighboring countries to discuss the safe evacuation of Pakistani nationals. The meeting was also attended by representatives from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, and other relevant agencies.

Violence erupted on April 15 between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, resulting in a humanitarian crisis and the deaths of 420 people. Thousands of foreign nationals, including diplomats, aid workers, and students, were stranded in the war zone. Diplomats were targeted in attacks, and at least five aid workers were killed. Although there was a temporary truce, the two sides did not comply, resulting in sustained pressure from concerned countries for the conflict to end and for their nationals to be evacuated.

Over the weekend, the United States was able to evacuate embassy staff by military helicopter, which led to other countries carrying out their evacuations. However, some convoys involved in the evacuations were attacked, including one carrying Qatari embassy staff and another carrying French citizens. France and Germany announced on Monday that they had evacuated around 700 people. Germany flew its evacuees to Berlin, and other countries sent military planes from Djibouti to transport their nationals out of the country. Some people were taken by convoy to Port Sudan and then boarded ships to Saudi Arabia. Indonesia reported that more than 500 of its citizens had been evacuated to the port and were waiting to be transported to Jeddah, across the Red Sea. China, Denmark, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden also reported that they had evacuated their nationals, while Japan said it was preparing to send an evacuation team from Djibouti.

A convoy of about 65 vehicles carrying approximately 700 international United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff and their dependents drove from Khartoum to Port Sudan on Sunday as part of the evacuations. 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 fighting in Sudan has resulted in the closure of most hospitals and the curtailment of water and electricity supplies. The killing of aid workers, including three from the World Food Programme, has led to the suspension of the agency’s operations in the country, where food aid is essential for approximately a quarter of the population.

The army and the RSF 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. The rivalry between the two groups has raised the risk of a broader conflict that could involve outside powers. Clashes have been reported in several regions beyond the capital, including Darfur’s three states, Blue Nile State on the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, and North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum.

Written by Aly Bukshi

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