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536 British nationals are evacuated from Sudan by the UK

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After the ceasefire expires, thousands of British citizens face the dreadful possibility of being stranded in Sudan.

A tenuous cease-fire was imposed on Tuesday to permit residents of the war-torn capital of Khartoum to leave, and 536 Britons have been transported to safety on six flights.

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The government has cautioned that there is no certainty as to how many more evacuation flights will leave when the deadline passes at midnight local time (10pm GMT) tonight because the ceasefire expires.

More than 2,000 British nationals in Sudan have registered with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under evacuation plans, but thousands more could be in the country.

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The military is racing against time to rescue Brits who will be stranded if they can’t make it to the Wadi Saeedna airstrip in time.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly this morning urged UK nationals still in the Northeast African country: ‘If you are planning to move, move now.’

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He told Sky News: ‘We cannot predict exactly what will happen when that ceasefire ends, but what we do know is it will be much, much harder, potentially impossible.

‘So what we’re saying to British nationals is if you’re hesitant, if you’re weighing up your options, our strong, strong, strong advice is to go to Wadi Saeedna while the ceasefire is up and running.

‘There are planes, there is capacity, we will lift you out. I’m not able to make those same assurances once the ceasefire has ended.’

The biggest problem facing UK nationals is getting to the airstrip north of the capital safely with fighting still being heard in Khartoum and nearby Omdurman despite the ceasefire.

Armed gangs and criminals are reportedly also in the area meaning any route to safety requires a perilous journey that comes with the very real risk of being shot, injured or robbed.

One British writer managed to get out of Sudan by taking a 600-mile exit route in what she called a ‘miracle escape’.

However, other Brits aren’t so fortunate with a student describing how she’s stuck in Khartoum amid scenes reminiscent of the horror movie The Purge, while another man from the UK is trying to make the dangerous journey on foot.

Further evacuation flights were expected to leave Sudan last night after the first plane carrying British nationals landed safely yesterday afternoon.

Africa minister Andrew Mitchell said the evacuation mission was ‘going very smoothly’ with ‘no great backlog, no great congestion’ at the airstrip.

But he warned ‘we are absolutely in the hands of the ceasefire’ and the government has told Brits that ‘travel within Sudan is conducted at your own risk’.

Mr Mitchell told Sky News: ‘We are doing everything we can to make sure it’s prolonged and on the wider stage, too, trying to negotiate for a longer ceasefire, because if the combatants don’t lay down their arms and return to barracks, there’s going to be a humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan.’

He also said that ‘at the moment those safe and legal routes don’t exist’ for refugees from Sudan to claim asylum in the UK.

Military chiefs have told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at least 500 people a day can be airlifted and flights can continue ‘for as long as we need to’ even if the 72-hour pause in fighting agreed between rival generals breaks.

It means UK citizens may still have a potential route out of Sudan but will come with the choice of either remaining in the country seeking safety and shelter or risk travelling through a warzone to make it to the airstrip.

Tarig Babikir, a British national who is trying to flee, said: ‘It’s complete anarchy right now, complete chaos.

‘Anyone can rob you, anyone can shoot you.’

One man from Sudan, who did not give his name, described his experience as a ‘nightmare’ when speaking outside Stansted Airport after returning safely.

He said: ‘It’s absolutely fantastic to be back. It’s been a nightmare. We’ve never seen anything like it before.

‘We saw it on the television before but we never thought it was going to happen to a peaceful country like Sudan.

‘Khartoum is like a ghost city, everyone is leaving Khartoum now.

‘We are very grateful to the British servicemen and women who risked their lives to come to Sudan and help us out.’


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