Foreign nations ensured that hundreds of people were evacuated overnight on military planes as evacuation flights continued early Monday while some foreigners also escaped Khartoum in a long UN convoy, and millions of terrified citizens huddled down inside their houses, with many running low on water and food.
Since April 15, army and paramilitary troops have waged fierce street fights across the city of five million people, leaving burnt tanks, wrecked buildings, and looted shops in their wake.
According to UN data, over 420 people have been murdered and others have been injured, raising worries of broader unrest and a humanitarian crisis in one of the world’s poorest countries.
US special forces launched a rescue mission for approximately 100 embassy personnel and their families on Sunday, swooping in with Chinook helicopters to transport them to a military camp in Djibouti.
In a letter to the Speaker of the House, President Joe Biden stated that US soldiers “will remain deployed in Djibouti to protect US personnel and others until the security situation no longer requires their presence.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said British soldiers had also rescued diplomats and their families, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country’s evacuation operation had been temporarily halted.
Trudeau tweeted, “Our diplomats are safe -– they have been extracted and are working from outside the country.”
Meanwhile, Germany and France said that they had begun evacuating their citizens as well as those from other countries. Two French planes carrying approximately 200 individuals from various nationalities landed in Djibouti.
The German army reported that the first of three military planes going to Sudan evacuated 101 individuals.
The first Airbus A400M “landed safely in Jordan” at about midnight local time (2100 GMT Sunday), according to the Bundeswehr. Another jet carrying 113 passengers was on its way to Jordan, it said.
According to their foreign ministries, Italy evacuated approximately 300 persons in total. “We reiterate the call for a ceasefire and resumption of dialogue in Sudan,” Madrid’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares tweeted.
Ireland said it would also send an emergency team to help with the evacuation of its residents and dependents while Egypt, Sudan’s major northern neighbour, said it had evacuated 436 nationals by land.
According to one Sierra Leonean evacuee, long convoys of UN cars and buses were spotted leaving Khartoum and going east to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, 850 kilometres (530 miles) away by road, transporting “citizens from all over the world.”
On 15 April, combat erupted between soldiers loyal to army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-opponent Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commander of the formidable paramilitary Rapid Support Soldiers (RSF).
Daglo’s RSF arose from the Janjaweed forces released by previous President Omar al-Bashir in Darfur, where they were accused of war crimes including genocide. Following widespread citizen protests, the military deposed Bashir in April 2019.
The two generals took control in a coup in 2021, but they later clashed in a violent power struggle, most notably over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army. Several truces have been reached in recent days, only to be ignored.
The RSF controls Khartoum’s airport, where the charcoal wrecks of destroyed aircraft lie on runways. The battle has driven terrified inhabitants into their houses, with power generally out in the searing heat and most people without access to the internet.
Tagreed Abdin, a programme manager and architect said, “Life in Khartoum today I would say is still burdened with anxiety and exhaustion.
“We did get power back yesterday, Wednesday, in our area. But at the same time, there was a rocket strike in our neighbourhood a few doors down from us. So, it is like nowhere is safe.”
Fighting has erupted in other parts of Sudan, Africa’s third-largest country.
Battles have raged in Darfur, where humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) stated their medics in the city of El Fasher had been “overwhelmed” by the number of patients with bullet wounds, many of whom were youngsters.
Some hospitals have been shelled, while others have been plundered, leaving more than two-thirds of hospitals in Khartoum and nearby states “out of service,” according to the physicians’ union.
The rush of foreign nations to flee has heightened Sudanese anxieties about what would happen once diplomats who could function as potential mediators have left.
Hamid Khalafallah who is a researcher said, “Pushing for safe passages to evacuate internationals without simultaneously pushing to end the war will be terrible.
“International actors will have less impact once they’re out of [the] country,” he said and added in a message to foreign nations, “Do all you can to leave safely, but don’t leave the Sudanese people behind unprotected.”
The US Agency for International Development announced an increase in aid to persons caught between the warring forces.
USAID chief, Samantha Power said on Sunday that the agency “has deployed a disaster assistance response team in the region to coordinate the humanitarian response for those in need both within and outside of Sudan,” while calling on the warring factions to ceasefire.