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Monday was supposed to be the day when a second RAF mission to rescue British citizens still stuck in Sudan would take off. This final UK airlift from Sudan was open to British citizens, permanent residents, and foreign NHS workers with the right to settle in Britain. The United Kingdom has transported 2,122 passengers across 23 flights.

Previous flights had left from the airport in the capital city of Khartoum, so passengers needed to travel the 500 kilometres to the coastline city of Port Sudan by midday.

The Foreign Office was evasive about whether or not the flight had actually left the ground. However, according to online flight trackers, a Royal Air Force Hercules transport plane left Port Sudan New International Airport at 17:43 BST (18:43 local).

At 19:25 BST (2020 UTC), another flight, an RAF Atlas cargo plane, was scheduled to take off.

Andrew Mitchell, a minister in the UK’s Foreign Office, said on Saturday that the country “can’t stay [in Sudan] forever” due to the deteriorating security situation.

There were reports of airstrikes and fighting over the weekend, despite a supposed truce between competing army units. Over the past two weeks, as fighting has spread throughout the country, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes.

Most of the fighting between the Sudanese military and the powerful paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces has taken place in the country’s capital, Khartoum.

On Saturday, the Sudanese military announced a new, massive operation against RSF strongholds in Khartoum.

The deadline for the latest ceasefire, which has already failed, was set for Sunday at midnight. However, the RSF reported that the duration of the ceasefire had been increased by three days.

Since the beginning of the week, British security agencies have been scouting Port Sudan as a potential alternate evacuation destination, and a small diplomatic presence has been set up there.

The British Embassy in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, is the command centre for the United Kingdom’s regional reaction. According to the FCDO, the flight would also accommodate the dependents of British nationals and NHS employees who have permission to visit the UK.

On Friday, the British government reversed course and said that NHS workers from other countries who were in Sudan may leave on evacuation planes.

When asked about the rescue attempt, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace remarked, “I am grateful to our armed forces who have ensured there was an alternative to Wadi Saeedna and who are currently supporting FCDO and Border Force staff to facilitate the rescue effort.”

Mr. Wallace also mentioned that the HMS Lancaster, a Royal Navy frigate, and members of the Royal Air Force are now stationed in Port Sudan. After fighting erupted near the British embassy in Khartoum a few days earlier, a separate operation saw special forces troops evacuate British diplomats.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office, however, stated that the UK’s evacuation from Sudan was “the largest of any Western country.”

Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ top humanitarian official, says he will fly to Sudan to coordinate the international assistance effort and offer prompt support to the millions of people who have left their homes.

SOURCE :- https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-65441191


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