We need answers on British evacuation plans for Sudan, Labour says

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Ministers must explain what they are doing to evacuate Britons from Sudan as fighting continues in the African country, Labour has urged.

A UK Government source said Sudan will be evacuated of British embassy staff “as soon as feasible” due to safety fears following increasing attacks on diplomatic missions.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden declined to be drawn on the detail of what the Government is doing as he toured the broadcast studios on Sunday.

Sudan is currently into a second week of bloody internal fighting between the army and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

Mr Dowden, asked whether the UK was preparing to evacuate Sudan of British nationals, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “The situation in respect of Sudan is clearly a rapidly moving and complex situation.

“Our priority is to support British nationals. Now, the Ministry of Defence is acting in support of the Foreign Office but clearly you wouldn’t expect me to comment for security reasons on the current situation in terms of movement on the ground.”

“First of all, this situation has arisen very rapidly and, secondly, we just don’t have the kind of scale of resources on the ground that were there in Afghanistan.

“Clearly, we need to make sure that we support our British nationals.

“At the moment, the advice to British nationals is to make sure they stay indoors, that they stay safe and get in contact with the Foreign Office.”

For Labour, Mr Ashworth said people are “deeply, deeply troubled and alarmed” about what is happening in Sudan.

“I hope we can have a clarification from the Foreign Office, perhaps in Parliament in the coming days, on that front.”

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, acknowledged it would be “probably the most complex evacuation” she could think of in her lifetime given there was no UK military on the ground.

Ms Kearns noted the United States had used a helicopter base on their embassy to start their evacuation and highlighted some of the difficulties.

She also told Times Radio: “We do need to be getting British nationals out. There is looting, there is sexual assault going on, there is violence on a daily basis. This is not a safe situation.

“I have a constituent whose loved ones are living in Sudan who want to get out, who have a UK visa. This is very complex, but we do need to evacuate British nationals.”

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