LONDON: The UK government is advising Britain’s National Health Service doctors trapped in Sudan that they can now depart on airlift flights from the country, despite previously turning them away, the BBC reported.
Almost 30 NHS employees were blocked from boarding military flights out of Sudan because they were not British nationals.
However, the policy U-turn took place just hours before the final rescue flights were due to depart the country from the Wadi Seidna Air Base north of the capital Khartoum.
The last flight is due to depart at 6 p.m. British Summer Time on Saturday.
The group of NHS doctors, as well as British nationals still in the country, have been advised to make their own way to Wadi Seidna.
The UK has already conducted a series of airlifts, transporting 1,573 people to Cyprus on military aircraft.
A “limited consular presence at Port Sudan to signpost British nationals to available options for departure” will remain as evacuation flights end due to “declining demand for seats,” the UK Foreign Office said.
NHS doctor Abdulrahman Babiker, who made headlines yesterday after appealing to the government to change its policy, landed in Cyprus late on Friday.
He was previously turned away from Wadi Seidna.
He told the BBC: “I am happy that I am finally in a safe place, away from a war and on my way back to the UK.
“At the same time, I feel down that my family (my dad, mum, brother and sister) are still endangered by this deadly fighting in my country.”
The British Medical Association appealed to the government before the latest policy change, asking authorities to “ensure all NHS doctors, and their families, including those on UK visas, are evacuated.”
The UK’s airlift efforts are “the longest and largest evacuation effort of any Western country” in Sudan, the Foreign Office said.