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Rescue operations to extract foreigners from Sudan

Battles raging in Sudan have sparked multiple evacuation operations to rescue foreign citizens or embassy staff by road, air and sea.

The main airport in the capital Khartoum has been the site of heavy fighting and is under the control of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that is battling the army.

Some evacuations are taking place from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, an 850 kilometre (530 mile) drive from Khartoum.

Here is an overview of what various nations have done in efforts to take stranded citizens to safety.

– Saudi Arabia –

Saudi Arabia led the first reported successful evacuations on Saturday, with naval operations picking up more than 150 people including foreign diplomats and officials.

Riyadh announced the “safe arrival” of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries — Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada and Burkina Faso.

– United States and Canada –

On Sunday, the US military sent three Chinook helicopters to evacuate American embassy staff from Khartoum.

More than 100 US forces took part in the rescue to extract fewer than 100 people, which saw the choppers flying from Djibouti to Khartoum, where they stayed on the ground for less than an hour.

US officials have warned that any wider effort to evacuate American citizens is unlikely in the coming days.

Canada has also pulled its embassy team out, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

– Britain and Norway –

The British army has evacuated UK embassy staff and their families in a “complex and rapid” operation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

British citizens still trapped in Sudan have been vocal on social media calling for help.

“We are working to support you because we recognise what an incredibly difficult and scary situation you find yourselves in,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Sunday.

The Norwegian ambassador said he other Norwegian diplomats had also been evacuated.

– European Union nations –

The European Union said Sunday there were “efforts to coordinate” evacuations. As well as the EU delegation, seven EU members have missions in Sudan.

Two French planes landed in Djibouti on Sunday with a total of 200 people of multiple nationalities.

The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said a “handful” of Dutch people had been evacuated on a French aircraft, with another group leaving Khartoum by road in a UN convoy.

The Greek foreign ministry said a first group of evacuees has “left Sudan with the assistance of France”.

Italy evacuated around 200 people, including all Italian citizens who “had asked to leave” and other nationalities, including Swiss and representatives of the Vatican, in a military operation on Sunday.

Berlin said it had airlifted 300 people using three planes — including Germans and other nationalities —  following an aborted attempt on Wednesday.

A Spanish military plane with 100 passengers — 30 Spanish and 70 other nationalities — left Sunday for Djibouti, Madrid said.

Sweden’s defence minister told AFP on Sunday “140 to 150” soldiers were mobilised to evacuate diplomats and other Swedish nationals.

The Irish government is deploying 12 defence personnel to Djibouti to help evacuate 150 citizens in Sudan, a foreign ministry statement said.

– Turkey –

Ankara began operations at dawn on Sunday, taking some of its estimated 600 nationals by road from two Khartoum districts and the southern city of Wad Madani.

But plans were postponed from one site in Khartoum after “explosions” near a mosque designated as the assembly area, the embassy said.

– Arab nations –

Egypt’s military last week evacuated 177 of its soldiers from Sudan. On Sunday the foreign ministry said 436 citizens had left by land.

Over 10,000 Egyptians are thought to live in Sudan.

Jordan on Saturday said it had begun evacuation of some 300 Jordanian citizens, adding there was the “continuous cooperation with the UAE and Saudi Arabia”.

Iraqi embassy staff left Khartoum on Saturday, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahhaf said, while on Sunday, 14 citizens arrived in Port Sudan.

Lebanon said 60 citizens had also left Khartoum by road, ahead of their evacuation by sea, while 83 Libyans had also reached Port Sudan.

The Tunisian embassy has announced an evacuation operation planned for Monday, with some citizens having already left aboard Saudi ships.

– Asia –

Other foreign countries preparing evacuations include South Korea and Japan, which have deployed forces to nearby countries.

India’s foreign ministry said it had two air force planes “on standby” in Saudi Arabia and a navy ship had arrived in Port Sudan, but any evacuations “would depend on the security situation”.

The Sudanese army has said it is also coordinating efforts to evacuate diplomats from China.

Indonesia said 43 citizens were sheltering inside the embassy compound in Khartoum.

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