Over 1,000 Pakistani citizens have been safely evacuated from Sudan as the Foreign Office announced the successful completion of its evacuation operation. The FO also expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia and China for their support in repatriating Pakistani nationals stranded in the conflict zone. In a separate tweet, Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan confirmed that 1,025 Pakistani citizens had been taken out of Sudan, adding that repatriations from Jeddah would continue until the last Pakistani citizen is brought back home.
The evacuation operation comes amid intense fighting between rival generals in Sudan, despite the latest truce. The United Nations has warned of the potential for a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands of refugees. Since April 15, air strikes and artillery exchanges have resulted in hundreds of casualties, prompting thousands of Sudanese citizens to flee to neighboring countries. However, many more have been unable to leave due to the arduous journey or a lack of resources. The situation has been described as a full-blown catastrophe by the top UN aid official in Sudan, Abdou Dieng.
Foreign governments have been scrambling to evacuate their citizens. Over the past ten days, thousands of foreigners have been brought to safety through air or sea operations, which are now winding down. Russia’s armed forces have announced that they are evacuating more than 200 people from Sudan on four military transport planes, while nearly 500 people arrived in the Saudi port of Jeddah on Monday aboard two vessels, one a US Navy ship and the other Saudi. Sudan’s turmoil has led to hospitals being shelled, humanitarian facilities looted, and foreign aid groups forced to suspend most of their operations. At least 528 people have been killed and some 4,600 wounded in the violence, according to the health ministry.
The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned of the possibility that over 800,000 people may flee the fighting in Sudan for neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has warned that the fighting is pushing Sudan’s already-ailing health sector towards “disaster,” with only 16% of health facilities in Khartoum still functioning. The WHO has delivered six containers of medical equipment to Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast, including supplies for treating trauma injuries and severe acute malnutrition. It has also distributed scarce fuel to hospitals that rely on generators for power.
Lawlessness has engulfed the West Darfur state capital, El Geneina, where at least 96 people have been reported killed since the start of the fighting, according to UN figures. More than 330,000 people have been displaced, with over 70% of them in West and South Darfur states, according to the International Organization for Migration. The doctors’ union has warned that the health system has completely collapsed in Geneina, adding that looting of clinics and camps for the displaced has forced several agencies to carry out “emergency evacuations” for their teams. Doctors Without Borders has also announced that the fighting has forced it to halt “almost all activities in West Darfur.”