Untold humanitarian stories of the Sudan evacuation, says Indian envoy

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Updated 01 May 2023

Untold humanitarian stories of the Sudan evacuation, says Indian envoy

Indian citizens are evacuated from Sudan by Saudi authorities. (Supplied)
  • Saudi assisted with 2,800 nationals, says ambassador Suhel Ajaz Khan
  • One man who needed urgent dialysis was provided free healthcare

RIYADH: The Indian ambassador to the Kingdom, Suhel Ajaz Khan, has highlighted the many untold stories behind Saudi authorities providing humanitarian and medical aid to Indian evacuees from Sudan.

In an interview with Arab News on Sunday, Khan said he and his team witnessed firsthand the evacuation process including the story of an elderly man facing kidney failure who needed weekly dialysis in Sudan. 

“There is an elderly gentleman suffering from kidney failure and he needed regular dialysis but because of the problem in Khartoum for the last two weeks he didn’t have access to any dialysis or any medical attention,” Khan told Arab News. 

“I approached the Ministry of Health and his excellency the minister of health himself and he was extremely forthcoming and he immediately said we would provide all of the medical attention that he needs,” the ambassador said.

He explained that the Kingdom evacuated the man from Port Sudan and he was in a critical condition when he arrived at Jeddah Port.

Khan said that when the man arrived, he was immediately transferred to King Fahad Hospital where he received dialysis and other medical treatment.

“He stabilized and alhamdulilah he was able to travel back to India yesterday with his family,” he said.

“These are the stories that I think we need to tell.”

“These are the stories of hope and how we are able to help our citizens and the stories of how Indian and Saudi authorities are working hand in hand to support these evacuees from Sudan,” he said.

He lauded the Kingdom’s efforts in providing care to the Indian citizens at Jeddah Port.

“Over the period of the last 10 days we have brought over four ships from Port Sudan and 11 flights, overall there have been 15 batches of Indians evacuated,” Khan told Arab News.

“We have been able to get a large number of Indians out and again we have excellent cooperation from all of the Saudi authorities. Everyone has been very forthcoming to help us and help our citizens,” Khan added. 

Since operations began the Saudi authorities have aided in evacuating over 2,800 Indian citizens from Sudan, providing many of them with medical aid before coordinating with the embassy in their transfers back to India.  

The Embassy of India released information on Sunday evening detailing the latest batch of evacuees from Sudan including four people in wheelchairs and several elderly citizens, with one woman being over the age of 100 and many in their 90s. 

The ambassador explained that the embassy has been working closely with the Saudi authorities.

“I spoke to some very senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and immediately they said that they would provide all help, all support, and all facilitation, and that had been the case ever since the beginning." 

“We have got excellent support and help from all of our Saudi friends and colleagues and Saudi officials and our people they feel so relieved when they reached here,” he said.

Khan said the Saudi Ministry of Health has been helpful in providing medical aid including oxygen cylinders to evacuated patients.

Khan said the Indian citizens felt the Kingdom was their second home that would ensure they were safe and comfortable.

“Personally I would say we would not have succeeded in this operation but for the help of the Saudi authorities, so I really want to thank everyone from officials in MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), GACA (General Authority of Civil Aviation), airways and ports, and sorry if I have been troubling you in the middle of the night,” he jokingly said.

The ambassador shared a personal anecdote during the planning and coordinating with Saudi authorities.

“On a particular night at 2 a.m. something was stuck and I had to call one of the Saudi officials. My minister said it was 2 a.m. are you really going to call him, is it okay? And I said don’t worry sir he will answer my call and he will sort out the problem and he did.”

Khan said these actions reflect the strong bond between the Kingdom and India, stressing that these evacuation efforts have brought the two countries closer.

Khan said he still expects a few hundred people to come from Sudan but that it was difficult to give an exact number at this stage.