Minister warns Britons in Sudan not to count on govt help

Minister warns Britons in Sudan not to count on govt help
People flee clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum, Sudan, April 24, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 April 2023

Minister warns Britons in Sudan not to count on govt help

Minister warns Britons in Sudan not to count on govt help
  • Giving assurances under current circumstances would be ‘irresponsible’: Andrew Mitchell
  • Development minister defends UK decision to extract diplomats, citing ‘specific’ threat to their security

LONDON: Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s development minister, has warned British nationals in Sudan that the government can offer no promises that it will be able to evacuate them under the current circumstances.

He said around 2,000 Britons in Sudan had registered with the UK Foreign Office requesting assistance.

He added that the UK is “exploring every single possible way of getting them out,” but warned: “I simply cannot give any assurances and (it) wouldn’t be responsible to do so.”

Foreign nationals across Sudan have been forced to take shelter after fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by the country’s military ruler Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by his former ally Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

The UK has faced criticism from its media, politicians and citizens still in Sudan after prioritizing the evacuation of British diplomatic staff and their families from the capital Khartoum in an overnight military operation at the weekend involving more than 1,000 personnel.

Mitchell said the diplomats had been prioritized for extraction over “a very specific threat to the diplomatic community” in Sudan, adding that “we have a specific duty of care, a legal duty of care, to our own staff and our diplomats.”

He said the UK’s ability to extract other citizens from Sudan would remain limited until fighting abated.

“The situation is absolutely desperate and a ceasefire is required,” he added. “The only advice that Britain can give to people is to stay indoors because that is the safe option.

“Many of the Brits there are very creative and know the situation on the ground, and if — at their own risk — they determine there is a way for them to leave their own homes then of course they will take it.”