current location:home page > Press center8 > British diplomats airlifted amid Sudan violence

British diplomats airlifted amid Sudan violence

2023-06-05 22:39:50 [Press center 1] source:The New York Times

British diplomats and their families have been evacuated from Sudan in a "complex and rapid" operation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed.

Mr Sunak said work was continuing to ensure the safety of British nationals who remain in Sudan.

However, some Britons still in the country complain of feeling abandoned by the UK government.

Violence in Sudan between two opposing forces has seen deadly shooting and shelling in the capital city, Khartoum.

The power struggle that erupted last week between the country's regular army and a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has also affected other parts of the country, leading to a growing humanitarian crisis.

Electricity is scarce and food and water supplies are running out for many.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed on Sunday that the UK and Egypt would work with international partners, including the African Union, on diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire.

Tobias Ellwood MP, chair of the Commons defence select committee, said the PM should now focus on "phase two" of evacuations to ensure that all British passport holders who want to leave the country can be extracted.

He does not know how many British passport holders there are in Sudan, but he told the BBC he understands that more than 1,000 people have registered with the Foreign Office and there are "easily a couple more thousand".

Asked about criticisms that the UK had not acted quickly enough to evacuate British diplomats and their families, Mr Ellwood said over 1,000 military personnel had been mobilised at very short notice.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC News that personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF) had been involved, with C-130 Hercules and A400 Airbus aircraft used in the rescue.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said there were "specific threats and violence directed towards diplomats" which led to the decision to evacuate staff.

He said that by relocating the embassy to a nearby country, diplomats could provide more assistance to those in Sudan.

But he said the government's ability to evacuate other British nationals was "severely limited" until fighting between warring parties stopped.

On Sunday Mr Cleverly chaired a sixth Cobra session - an emergency response committee made up of ministers, civil servants and others - to discuss Sudan's "escalation" of violence.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, praised military efforts to evacuate diplomats, but said he was "deeply concerned" about the welfare of British nationals who remained stuck in Sudan.

Some of those UK nationals in Khartoum have told the BBC they felt abandoned by the UK government in recent days.

Sam, a British businessman living in Sudan, told the BBC that news of the UK evacuation "gave us hope, but in the absence of any information from the government this was clearly a solution for diplomats only".

He described the situation as a "nightmare for those of us left behind", and said he knew of many people from other countries like Hungary and South Africa whose embassies are making plans to evacuate nationals.

Another UK citizen in Sudan, William, described a chaotic evacuation as he told the BBC he had opted to leave the capital Khartoum on a bus, organised by his Sudanese employer to evacuate him and other nationals to Egypt.

Speaking to Newshour, he said the UK government had given him "nothing" in terms of support, adding: "We had to basically go private, we've had absolutely nothing but nonsense from the government and not even nonsense. We've had nothing.

"The internet's just gone out, so we've been on 3G all day. And we were all running out of data. And so communication was becoming increasingly difficult."

William said people hoping to be evacuated were dotted around the city until they got on the bus and described the wait as a "dicey situation" with "gunfire going off all the time".

"We're making quite slow progress but steady progress. So the idea is we continue going for the next two days, up to the Egyptian border, and then we're sort of safe."

The Sudanese Junior Doctors Association UK said it knew of 71 NHS doctors currently trapped in Sudan, who are UK citizens or residents and a mixture of consultants and junior doctors.

"We are concerned for their safety and the safety of their spouses and children," it said in on Twitter.

UK citizens in Sudan are being urged to tell the Foreign Office where they are in case more help becomes available, and a hotline has been set up for those who need urgent help.

Several other countries including France, the Netherlands and Italy have also begun evacuating citizens.

The US airlifted its diplomats from Khartoum in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Alicia Kearns MP, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, said the evacuation of British diplomats and their families was an "enormous operation and incredibly complex evacuation".

She told BBC's Newshour that she did not know how many British nationals may be stuck in Sudan but she imagined they are feeling "abject fear".

How have you been affected by what's happening in Sudan? You can get in touch by emailing

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at Please include your name, age and location with any submission.


Recommended articles
Hot Reading