Thursday, 20 Jun 2024

Sudanese army blocks Britons from boarding last rescue flights

Sudanese army blocks Britons from boarding last rescue flights


Sudanese army blocks Britons from boarding last rescue flights

Earlier, the Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee told the Observer she had received information that elements of the Sudanese Armed Forces had blocked British nationals as they attempted to navigate the treacherous route to an airbase north of Khartoum.

Among them were Rana Ameen, a 23-year-old engineering student, who said she and five members of her family had paid the equivalent of £475 per person to reach the border crossing with Egypt, almost 600 miles away. To even reach the bus station on the outskirts of Omdurman, the family was forced to negotiate the centre of the capital, where bitter fighting between two generals has caused hundreds thousands of people to flee.

On Friday, the deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, said they had imposed the deadline on rescue flights after a lack of demand for seats. However, Kearns urged ministers to check on the location of all 2,000 people who had registered as needing assistance to ensure they had all reached the UK.

On Saturday night shortly after 9pm, the Foreign Office said that the final flight, which had been scheduled to leave at 6pm, was still at the airfield near Khartoum. No reason was given for the delay.

Anyone left behind faces an uncertain future and may choose to head north to Egypt, the opposite way to South Sudan or broadly east towards Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that at least 75,000 people have been newly displaced by the fighting, although this number may not include thousands more who fled to Sudan to seek shelter from conflict in surrounding nations and have now been forced to flee a second time.

The Egyptian ministry of health said it had deployed teams to two border crossings with Sudan to aid new arrivals in need of care, almost two weeks after fighting began.

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