Foreign powers bail out their nationals while Sudanese are left to fend for themselves
(CNN) — Foreign powers have rescued their embassy staff and their citizens caught up in deadly fighting in Sudan, although many Sudanese on the ground have found themselves in dire straits.
U.S. special forces helped bring nearly 100 people to safety on Saturday, mostly U.S. embassy staff and a small number of diplomatic experts from other countries, U.S. officials said.
Many other countries are also trying to do the same, and more than 1,000 EU citizens have been expelled so far.
Evacuation was complicated by continuous fighting. Two sides in more than a week of fighting – the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – blamed each other after a French evacuation vehicle was fired upon as it tried to leave Sudan, a French citizen said. .
An employee of the Egyptian Embassy in Sudan was also shot during the evacuation operation, according to the Cairo Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, many Sudanese citizens are stranded at home with limited food supplies, or are seeking ways out of the country across its land borders, with the capital’s main international airport still closed.
The wave of operations came on the ninth day of fighting in Khartoum.
Sudan’s military chief, General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, and RSF commander, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, seized control of the country in a 2021 military coup and were about to hand over power to a civilian government, but did they face each other? .
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 420 people have been killed and 3,700 injured in the fighting. The humanitarian situation on the ground is deteriorating, with many people without access to medical services and without food and water.
Several cease-fires have been broken, including the latest, called for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Residents in parts of Khartoum told CNN early Sunday that there were no signs the ceasefire was being respected as it was hit by airstrikes, heavy artillery, explosions and gunfire. They said clashes were taking place around the military headquarters and the presidential palace in the center of the city.
“Complex and fast” operations
Despite the grave dangers, foreign governments continue to announce rescue missions to evacuate their citizens.
American citizens in Sudan may join evacuation convoys organized by the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, it was reported on Sunday.
There are an estimated 16,000 US citizens in Sudan, most of whom hold dual citizenship.
Some countries have already carried out successful evacuations, including the UK, Spain, Jordan, Italy, France, Denmark and Germany. Many of its convoys also carried citizens of other countries such as Sweden, Portugal, Mexico, Palestine, Iraq and Syria.
Several new rounds of evacuations are planned. More evacuations are planned or underway in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, India, Russia, Australia, Japan, China and the Philippines.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell said on Monday that more than 1,000 EU citizens had been evacuated, a “successful move”.
“It’s been a long weekend, a long intense weekend of trying to evacuate our people from Sudan,” Borrell said, thanking France in particular for evacuating other non-French foreigners.
“Stay and starve or risk a stray bullet”
Yet millions of Sudanese citizens have been left to fend for themselves, trapped in their homes for days, unsure of how to get to safety as foreigners rush in on evacuation flights.
Sudanese-American journalist Ismail Kushkush was trapped for several days in a building in downtown Khartoum near the presidential palace, along with 29 other Khartoum residents, including children and foreigners.
“Five days without electricity or water. We’re using the little water that’s left in the tank. No food. Unable to leave the building, located two blocks from the presidential palace. The center of the fighting since the conflict started,” he said. In a chain of text messages to CNN. Later, the crew was evacuated safely.
In nearby WhatsApp group chats and social media, others discussed where to get water, charge phones, find medical aid and find safe routes out of Khartoum without fighting. Many people asked for advice on how to get to Egypt by public transport.
A woman in her 30s, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told CNN she fled Khartoum to Egypt by bus.
He said he was motivated to do so by the RSF’s unpredictability and deteriorating conditions in the capital.
Although his family has a generator that can supply water to homes in the neighborhood, it’s unclear how long they can hold out or when the tide of fighting might bring militants to their doorstep.
“It was staying and risking starvation. Or dying from a stray bullet? … We decided to take the risk,” he said, hearing of people dying in their homes without food or water. “We thought we were easy prey by taking refuge in our homes.”
A group of their relatives, including two seriously ill children and an elderly woman, found a bus driver ready to take them to Egypt. They left on Friday morning and arrived at the border on Saturday night; The group was arrested only once by the Sudanese armed forces in Omdurman, he said.
But they had difficulty transporting men to Egypt without visas, and some without passports — including newborns — were turned away.
“They had to stay behind. We are still trying to figure out how to get the documents to cross the border,” he said.
— Sandi Sidhu, Lauren Kent, Kylie Atwood, Xiaofei Xu, Joseph Ataman, Al Goodman, Heather Chen, Sugam Pokharel, Duarte Mendonça, Eyad Kourdi, Gul Tuysuz and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.