Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said his government has commenced a “large-scale” evacuation effort to help British nationals leave strife-torn Sudan from April 25.
U.K military flights are due to depart from an airfield outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, supported by senior diplomats from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Flights will be open to those with British passports and priority will be given to family groups with children and/or the elderly or individuals with medical conditions.
“The government has begun a large-scale evacuation of British passport holders from Sudan on RAF flights. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable, including families with children and the elderly,” Mr. Sunak said on Twitter.
“I pay tribute to the British Armed Forces, diplomats and Border Force staff carrying out this complex operation. The U.K will continue to work to end the bloodshed in Sudan and support a democratic government,” he said.
At this stage, the FCDO has said it will contact those who are eligible for evacuation directly and urged British nationals not to make their way to the airfield unless they are called.
“The safety of all British nationals in Sudan continues to be our utmost priority and we urge everyone to continue to follow our travel advice,” it said.
The British government said the situation in the north-east African country remains volatile and its ability to conduct these evacuations may have to change at short notice.
“We are working with international partners to arrange this departure and thank them for their cooperation. We are also working on other potential options for helping British nationals leave Sudan, including from other points of exit,” the FCDO added.
The UK government has updated its travel advice to reflect the provision of these flights.
Around 4,000 U.K citizens are thought to be in Sudan and 2,000 of them have already requested help, U.K Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell told the House of Commons on April 24.
Over the weekend, Mr. Sunak revealed that the U.K armed forces had completed a “complex and rapid evacuation” of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff.
“I pay tribute to the commitment of our diplomats and bravery of the military personnel who carried out this difficult operation. We are continuing to pursue every avenue to end the bloodshed in Sudan and ensure the safety of British nationals remaining in the country,” he said.
The U.K government has said it will do all it can to ensure the safe passage of its citizens in what remains a very “challenging context”.
Rival military factions in Sudan agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire from April 24 night in the country, where at least 400 people have been killed in fighting since mid-April.