MANILA: More than 400 Filipinos have been evacuated from Sudan, authorities said on Thursday, as the first group crossed into Egypt, amid a ceasefire between warring Sudanese factions.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces erupted on April 15, resulting in the deaths of at least 459 people and injury to over 4,000, according to the latest WHO estimates.
Foreign countries began evacuating their citizens when the army and RSF announced the ceasefire on Monday. The evacuation efforts have been complicated by major airports becoming battlegrounds, and have been rushed because the truce is due to expire on Friday.
The first group of Filipinos left the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday and the Department of Foreign Affairs said 51 of them reached neighboring Egypt on Thursday morning, after a long journey by bus. They were received by Ambassador Ezzedin Tago, chief of the Philippine mission in Cairo, which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in Sudan.
Another group of Philippine nationals left Khartoum on Wednesday. Initial figures suggested that the total number of evacuated Filipinos was 409, but more have registered since.
“The number is closer to 450 now ... They have reached the border,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo De Vega told Arab News.
The number of Filipinos seeking evacuation can still increase as De Vega said earlier that many living in Sudan were undocumented.
Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople is now in Egypt to coordinate the efforts to ensure Philippine nationals leave the country.
In a televised press briefing on Tuesday, she said those whose passports were missing or invalid would be assisted.
“There is a problem acquiring a security pass to cross from the Sudan side to Egypt ... I’m pretty sure their border control is overwhelmed,” she said, adding that the Philippine embassy was facilitating temporary entry for those lacking documents.
“Based on our conversation with Ambassador Tago, he said he doesn’t see that they will be rejected or they will be sent back.”