RAF aircraft are involved in a “large scale evacuation” to rescue around 4,000 trapped Britons from Sudan which has been described as “dangerous” and a very “complex operation.”
The RAF are to fly into the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum and they will start with the extraction of those who have children, the vulnerable and the elderly.
Late on Monday night a 72-hour ceasefire was agreed, but it this could take time to filter down to areas where there is lingering fighting which will affect those trying to get to the airfield who will have no help to get there.
There is around 1,400 UK military assets on the ground and the British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned it is “impossible for us to predict how long this opportunity will last.”
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He said that Brits are being contacted by teams and are being told only travel to the airfield if they are called.
Cleverly added, “This is an active conflict, the ceasefire has been announced but we know there have been pockets of violence even within previous ceasefires,” he said.
“So this does remain dangerous, this does remain difficult.
“We are providing what assistance we can and we are operating as quickly as we can.”
The “complex operation” involves flights taking off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus which consists of the new A400M and the old C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
Cleverly said, “The UK Government is co-ordinating an evacuation of British nationals from Sudan.
“We have started contacting nationals directly and providing routes for departure out of the country.”
Sir Nicholas Kay, a former British ambassador to Sudan, warned that the situation on the ground is “precarious” even though the ceasefire remains in place.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “The security situation can change very quickly, the command and control over forces isn’t complete and there is no trust between the two sides so they might kick off again.”
He warned that Brits trying to move around Khartoum will be “very difficult” as attempting to cross bridges over the Blue and White Nile rivers are controlled by armed militia groups, Sir Nicholas warned.
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