June 7, 2023
Sudan fight

West Abandons Sudan

Read Time:4 Minute, 4 Second

British special forces extricate embassy personnel and families from war torn Sudan shuts its embassy following the US closure 72 hour ceasefire agreed

The UK shut its embassy in Khartoum, Sunday, after it was announced by the British prime minister and foreign secretary that they have evacuated diplomatic staff and their dependants from the battled scarred capital after a rescue mission by special forces.

British citizens all dual nationals remain trapped in the country. Foreign governments have been working to bring their nationals to safety. One 65-vehicle convoy took dozens of children among hundreds of diplomats and aid workers on an 800-km (500-mile), 35-hour journey in searing heat from the embattled capital Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Rishi Sunak said British armed forces had carried out “a complex and rapid” military operation. The evacuation involved members of UK special forces and the Parachute Regiment.

With UK citizens still trapped by the fighting in Khartoum, the news that diplomats have been prioritised is likely to cause deep concern, but James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, insisted the top priority remained the safety of British nationals.

He said the UK was working round the clock to broker international support to end the bloodshed in Sudan, which has pitted army units loyal to Sudan’s military ruler, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

At about 3am, Sunday around the table of a hastily scheduled COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) Sunak gave the green light for the first military operation as PM.

RAF aircraft, including at least one Hercules and A400M Atlas logistic planes, left the UK to be ready to launch a rescue mission from the British military airbase in Cyprus.

In total more than 1,200 personnel from the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, the Royal Marines and the RAF were getting ready, in anticipation of the PM’s decision.

Royal Air Force Hercules and A400M Atlas aircraft are propeller-driven, meaning they are better suited to rough dirt airstrips that may be encountered in the midst of fighting. Jet engines, such as on the RAF’s fleet of C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft, can easily be damaged by debris thrown up after landing.

The decision was taken not to fly directly into Khartoum airport, located in the middle of the city, as it was too risky given the ongoing situation.

Instead, the British planes raced towards the Wadi Seidna airbase, about 20km north of the capital, home to the Sudanese air force.

Once secure on the ground, the planes disgorged a number of 4×4 all-terrain vehicles that then headed south, towards the embattled city.

Meanwhile, in central Khartoum, the Special Air Service (SAS) team dropped off by US special forces when they rescued their staff on Saturday, briefed the embassy staff. Identities were established and the military team detailed exactly what the civilians should do in the event of the convoy coming under fire or experiencing a vehicle breakdown.

Weapons were readied and a radio check made to establish communications with the British forces at the airbase at Wadi Seidna and the road party heading towards Khartoum.

Military planners debated whether to deploy a road party and a team directly to the embassy, which would have increased the risk to British personnel. It was decided that having two options running on the ground would be better in case of unforeseen and potentially catastrophic incidents as the mission unfolded.

The embassy staff and their families were quickly taken to the waiting RAF Hercules C-130 and the A400M without encountering any rebel Rapid Support Forces and government forces.

With UK citizens still trapped by the fighting in Khartoum, the news that diplomats have been prioritised is likely to cause deep concern.

Cleverly warned that UK Government efforts to provide assistance to those stuck in Sudan will remain “severely limited” until a ceasefire is reached. In the meantime, the government urged British citizens to register their location with the Foreign Office. Citizens were further advised to “shelter in place” and have their passports and travel documents to hand, where it is possible, if the fighting allows, that they could be rescued.

The U.S. said on Monday that the warring factions in Sudan agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the truce deal followed two days of intense negotiations and would begin on Tuesday. The two sides have not abided by several temporary truce deals over the past week.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the violence in a country that flanks the Red Sea, Horn of Africa and Sahel regions “risks a catastrophic conflagration … that could engulf the whole region and beyond”.

The Security Council planned a meeting on Sudan on Tuesday.

Source PA

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