More emergency Sudan talks as calls mount for UK nationals to be rescued

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Ministers are to hold another emergency Cobra meeting on the Sudan crisis, as pressure grows on the Government to evacuate British nationals trapped in the war-torn country.

Downing Street said “all avenues” are being explored over how to rescue at least 2,000 UK citizens, without detailing what further action could be taken.

Britons stranded in Sudan continue to be advised to shelter in place, register their information with the Foreign Office and await further instructions, while people from other European nations have been flown to safety.

He declined to comment on a report by The Times that two British warships could be heading to Port Sudan to assist with evacuations, with the paper saying it could take several days for them to arrive.

“We will pull every lever possible to help bring about a ceasefire and equally to support British nationals trapped by fighting,” the official said.

Some said they felt “abandoned” after diplomats were rescued in a night-time evacuation mission, and were organising dangerous private evacuations.

Sudan graphic
(PA Graphics)

He said the Government is doing “everything we can” to get British nationals out, but dampened hopes of it happening before a ceasefire.

He defended the prioritisation of embassy staff, saying there had been “a very specific threat to the diplomatic community” in the capital Khartoum.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the Government to move quickly to help British nationals, telling journalists in south London: “There’s deep concern about those that are still there and in fear and real concern about what’s going to happen to them.

“I do want the Government to do everything it can at pace to help them get out of that difficult situation.”

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the UK must help broker a temporary ceasefire to secure a land corridor for people to leave the country.

“We must use our influence to speak to both sides, making it very clear that there needs to be a 12-hour ceasefire so we can get our people out,” the senior Tory MP told the BBC’s World At One programme.

He said the UK must not “abandon” its nationals as the threat picture in Sudan is “deteriorating rapidly”.

Alicia Kearns, Tory chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, warned “there is no imminent sign of a ceasefire”.

She estimated there could be “3,000, 4,000 plus” British nationals trapped in Sudan, who would be in “abject fear”, with reports of some people killing their pets “because they’re worried they’re going to starve”.

She told Today: “The reality is we have to get British nationals out. If, however, there was to be no evacuation because it’s too dangerous, then we have a moral obligation to tell British nationals as soon as possible that that is the judgment that has been made, because they then need to be able to make their own decisions.”

When it was put to her that one person claimed to have received only two computer-generated text messages from the UK Government telling him to stay inside, Ms Kearns said: “So that would suggest that no lessons have been learned since Afghanistan, and I have urged the Government to make sure they are communicating regularly with British nationals.”

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said he “wouldn’t accept that”, saying “significant lessons” were learned from the evacuation from Kabul.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said more than a thousand people have been extracted through the combined efforts of member states.

William, a UK citizen in Sudan, told the BBC he was forced to “go private” and leave Khartoum on a bus arranged by his Sudanese employer because “we’ve had absolutely nothing but nonsense from the Government”.

Iman Abugarga, a British woman who has been sheltering in Khartoum, said she feels “absolutely” abandoned by the British Government.

“It is shameful how they have mismanaged this situation,” she told the Telegraph.

Mr Sunak said on Sunday there had been a “complex and rapid” evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Khartoum, a city gripped by an internal battle for control between rival generals.

Hundreds of people have died and thousands hurt in a bloody conflict between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces.

The prospect of airlifting large numbers of people out of Sudan has been complicated by the fact that most major airports have become battlegrounds, while movement out of the capital has proved perilous.

The current explosion of violence comes after two generals fell out over a recent internationally brokered deal with democracy activists, which was meant to incorporate the RSF into the military and eventually lead to civilian rule.

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