On Saturday, talks over a truce in Sudan sparked optimism that foreign people stranded in the country due to intense fighting between opposing armed groups might be evacuated shortly.
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s de facto president and army commander-in-chief, claimed he had agreed to ease the evacuation of international civilians and diplomats from the beleaguered country.
According to a Sudanese army spokesperson, the United States, Britain, France, and China will begin evacuating from Khartoum “in the coming hours” using military transport aircraft.
However, no Western citizens have been evacuated as of Saturday evening.
Al-Burhan has pledged to “facilitate and guarantee” the evacuations and to provide the countries with “the necessary support to ensure this,” the army spokesman said.
The rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, RSF, which has been openly fighting the Sudanese army for the past week, also said in a statement it was “ready for a complete ceasefire” to allow evacuations.
During the fighting, however, ostensible ceasefire agreements have been regularly breached.
Sudanese citizens are also attempting to evacuate as the fighting continues.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, up to 20,000 people have fled to neighboring Chad in recent days.
Thousands more individuals have been uprooted from the country’s most disputed districts.
Meanwhile, a Saudi Arabian team has already been evacuated from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, according to the army spokesman, who added that a Jordanian group would be flown out of Port Sudan, about 850 kilometers from Sudan’s capital, later on Saturday.
According to Saudi news station al-Arabiya, five Saudi ships also transported 158 Sudanese citizens to the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
According to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, among them were diplomats and citizens from Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Canada, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines.
According to al-Burhan, the army controls all airports in Sudan save those in Khartoum and Njala in the South Dafur region.
The country’s de facto president declared he would keep control of the army and would only let his competitor and former deputy, RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, flee “in a coffin.”
Fighting erupted roughly a week ago in Sudan between the country’s two most senior generals and their separate military groups.
Since the battle began, at least 413 people have been killed and over 3,500 have been injured, according to the World Health Organization.
The airport in Khartoum’s capital, Khartoum, has become unavailable due to the violence.
Diplomats have been working for days to achieve a durable ceasefire in order to evacuate foreign citizens.
Following a temporary ceasefire on Friday due to Muslim Eid-el-Fitr celebrations marking the end of Ramadan, hostilities resumed overnight.
Khartoum was bombarded again on Saturday morning, according to a reporter on the ground.
Shots were fired in the city, and witnesses reported hearing explosions on Twitter.
According to the correspondent, the ceasefire was mostly maintained over the night. There had only been “sporadic clashes.”
The US embassy in Khartoum announced on Saturday that due to continuous fighting and the shutdown of the capital’s airport, it is now impossible to evacuate US citizens.
According to a statement, the embassy continues to constantly monitor the situation in Khartoum and neighboring areas.
Aside from fighting between opposing groups, there have been reports of attacks, home invasions, and looting.
Meanwhile, according to media sources, Spain dispatched four aircraft to the east African country of Djibouti to enable the evacuation of its nationals and other foreign individuals from Sudan.
Two more planes are expected to arrive on Saturday, according to Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles, as quoted by the Europa Press news agency.
Djibouti is around 1,200 kilometers south of Khartoum.
According to the minister, some of the Spanish cargo planes were carrying special forces and armored vehicles to securely evacuate civilians if necessary.
As Khartoum airport is currently closed, “you have to get overland to a nearby airfield, but we have very well-prepared special forces,” Robles was quoted as saying.
An evacuation will only be possible when there is an “effective and genuine ceasefire,” Robles added.
The German Defense Ministry has stated that the country’s armed forces, or Bundeswehr, are preparing for a second attempt to evacuate German nationals.
An attempt at a diplomatic evacuation using air force jets was called off on Wednesday.
According to Foreign Minister Tobias Billström and Defense Minister Pl Jonson, the Swedish government intends to urge parliament on Sunday to allow the deployment of an armed unit to Sudan to help an evacuation effort.
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