A British man trapped in the Sudanese capital for almost a week has said the Foreign Office has done nothing to evacuate citizens, despite fierce shelling and gunfire.
The father of two, who asked not to be named for his safety, is taking refuge in central Khartoum with his wife and children, as well as 20 other foreign civilians.
The group, who are mostly aid workers, has been trapped in the epicenter of the fighting since Saturday, when the fiercest clashes broke out between the country’s two top generals.
They are among several aid workers, Western diplomats, UN officials and Sudanese civilians. the independent he has spoken over the last week with those who have resorted to asking for help on social media or relying on local volunteers, to try to get supplies or find a way out.
Despite escalating violence and dwindling supplies, the Foreign Office had done little to help, the British family said.
On Friday morning, they were told to put their names on a list of people who needed to be evacuated, but, after six days, “that’s it,” he said. the independent.
They now only have a week or two of food supplies left and “bombs are falling and gunshots are heard every day”.
“They told me to stay put. Then I didn’t hear anything until the fourth… I called the Embassy again, who said: ‘I can assure you that the talks are taking place at the highest levels,’” he said, adding that he was advised to Sign up for updates to the Sudan travel advice page on the government website, which urges people not to travel to the country.
“What bothers me is that all the other governments are doing things, but ours is clearly not.”
“I think now they have woken up and are alert. I just hope that now that they’ve woken up they actually do something,” she added.
Last year, the Foreign Ministry said it had “lessons to learn” from the chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan in 2022 following the withdrawal of international forces.
Ministers admitted to a catalog of errors in their handling of Britain’s exit from Afghanistan and closed the door on many Afghans who helped Britain before the Taliban takeover.
the independent he has since revealed that desperate Afghans hiding from the Taliban were told they could only reach safety in Britain if their papers were approved by the fundamentalists they were trying to flee from.
An Afghan war veteran who served with the British armed forces is among those who fled to the UK on small boats and are now being threatened with deportation to Rwanda.
This newspaper is now calling on the UK to support Afghan war heroes who served alongside Britain.
More than 400 people have already been killed and thousands injured since fierce fighting broke out between Sudan’s army and rival paramilitaries, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for control of the country.
At the center of the conflict are two generals: the head of the Sudanese army, General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who initially joined forces in a coup in 2021, only two years after the ouster of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Both became heads of the country’s new ruling Sovereign Council. However, tensions turned violent when they clashed over details of a transition agreement to civilian rule that was supposed to be signed last month and would have seen RSF forces merge with the military.
Despite repeated promises of a humanitarian ceasefire, most recently for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, foreign governments and international aid agencies have been unable to do anything due to the escalating violence.
On Friday, the United States, South Korea and Japan deployed troops or military aircraft to a US base in Djibouti, on the Gulf of Aden, to wait for the possibility of evacuating its civilians. Meanwhile, the Netherlands have sent their own to Jordan.
But it is unclear if any evacuation attempts will take place.
Two days ago, the German army was forced to abort a mission to evacuate some 150 citizens due to renewed fighting, according to the Spiegel news magazine.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it has been receiving calls “every day” from people and organizations seeking help to get to safety.
But they have not even been able to deliver aid and medical supplies to the capital because they do not have “the necessary security guarantees that we need to operate safely.”
“We also know that hospitals are running dangerously low on medical supplies and ambulances are unable to move safely to help the injured,” an ICRC spokesperson said. the independent.
“The ICRC is not carrying out evacuations in Sudan and we have no plans at this time to do so. What the people need more than anything right now is a significant lull in hostilities.”
This has left civilians effectively fending for themselves.
Said the British father trapped in a school the independent that their biggest concern is that the phone companies have announced that the phone lines could go down soon, which would make coordinating an evacuation infinitely more difficult than it already is.
He expressed his frustration at the UK’s lack of preparation.
“It’s silly that something like this was unexpected. We all hoped it wouldn’t happen, but it was definitely a possibility. It should have been planned,” he said.
“We thought they wouldn’t have been that stupid, but they have been. We’re stressed and we’d like people to know, and clearly they’re not.”
the independent he also spoke to several other Westerners, including UN officials, who declined to comment directly but described taking to social media for help as no outside help has arrived.
Sudanese volunteers have tried to respond to some of those calls by creating Telegram groups with possible evacuation points and routes.
Activists who are part of pre-existing neighborhood initiatives called “resistance committees” have also begun coordinating evacuations and risking their lives to obtain credit for mobile phones, food and water for those sheltering in place.
but they told him the independent it had become “almost impossible” to evacuate as fighting intensified, citizens were shot or arrested at random, and gunmen robbed evacuation vehicles. RSF soldiers have also started occupying houses, forbidding citizens to go out, a volunteer added.
“To make such a move, we had to beg the RSF soldiers to let us go. Along the way, you may be stopped by at least 4 checkpoints, but often it is much more,” he said. The independent.
“They are shooting at the citizens randomly, there are snipers in all the buildings, there is continuous shooting, assaults and airstrikes.”
A UK government spokesperson said: “We are coordinating across government and with our international partners to provide the best ongoing consular assistance to British citizens and support to our diplomatic staff. We will continue to post updates as the situation develops.
“The Ministry of Defense is supporting the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office with prudent planning for various contingencies.”