British nationals in Sudan given until 6pm on Saturday to catch evacuation flight

·2-min read
British nationals in Sudan given until 6pm on Saturday to catch evacuation flight

Evacuation flights for British nationals out of Sudan will cease at 6pm on Saturday (UK time), deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday evening.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Dowden said that 1,500 people had already been evacuated from the war-torn country on flights bound for Cyprus.

But he added: “In the past 24 hours we’ve seen a significant decline in the British nationals coming forward. People should expect that by 6pm on Saturday that we will cease those flights.

“Every single British national that has come forward has been put safely onto a plane. We are seeing those numbers declining significantly and - like other countries - we have put an end date on this.

“Beyond this we will maintain consular support to Sudan.”

He claimed the evacuation was the “longest and largest” of any western country.

Updated guidance on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website urged those wishing to leave Sudan to travel to the Wadi Saeedna airfield by 12pm local time on Saturday to be processed for the last flight.

Only British passport holders and their immediate family who have existing clearance to enter the UK are currently authorised for evacuation.

It comes after the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces joined the Sudanese military in agreeing to extend the 72-hour truce, which has allowed citizens and foreign nationals to flee.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly previously urged all UK nationals wishing to flee Sudan to come forward “as quickly as possible”, despite the extended truce.

Labour has called on the Government to widen the eligibility for evacuation beyond British passport holders and their immediate family.

Concerns have been raised that the current approach could see families split up or some members left behind, with Labour urging ministers to use the longer window to extend eligibility for evacuation before it is “too late”.

Asked whether Britain was leaving behind people struggling to get to the site or to coordinate with family members stuck in the country, Mr Dowden said: “I wouldn’t accept that characterisation. The first thing I would say is that every single British national that has come forward and their eligible dependants have been put safely on to a plane.”

The war in Sudan is being fought between the Sudanese army commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and paramilitary forces led by his rival General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

The fighting erupted in mid-April and has so far led to the deaths of more than 500 people, while turning residential areas into war zones.