First evacuation flight arrives in UK from Sudan
The first flight of British nationals arrived back in London Stansted on yesterday afternoon, having left Larnaca in Cyprus, where they were initially evacuated.
Another RAF flight was preparing to depart the Wadi Saeedna airstrip near the capital of Khartoum on Wednesday afternoon, with a further three flights expected later in the day.
Downing Street said the flights have been “full or close to full”, with no “significant issues” being faced by the evacuees who have been told to make their own way to the airfield.
More than 2,000 British nationals have registered in Sudan under evacuation plans, but thousands more could be in the country.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the operation in Khartoum is “running smoothly”, while there is currently “no issue with capacity”.
He told journalists that 301 people have been lifted to safety on four flights, with the total number of RAF planes to depart Khartoum due to double on Wednesday.
The official said the “majority” of the people on the planes were British nationals but that some will be citizens of allied countries.
He had not been informed of “large-scale problems” of non-British passport holders turning up and being told they are not eligible.
Despite nationals being told to make their own way to the airstrip, he said “we are not seeing those who are making that travel having significant issues”.
Downing Street hopes to carry on with flights throughout the week and does not believe there will be a need to “leave the airport imminently”.
A 72-hour ceasefire brokered by the warring rival generals has largely held since it began in the early hours of Monday.
It is understood that if fighting resumes the evacuation operation will not necessarily end, but it will present a greater risk to the safety of evacuees, troops and officials.
The Prime Minister told the Commons of the country’s “proud record” of supporting asylum seekers, but did not commit to a new safe and legal route for those fleeing Sudan.
In an apparent swipe at the UK’s approach, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not leave civilians “to their own devices” as it completed its evacuation.
She said that “unlike in other countries”, Germany’s evacuation had included all its nationals and not just embassy staff, whom the UK airlifted to safety on Sunday.