Irish army personnel to help evacuate citizens from Sudan

An aerial view of black smoke covering the sky above the Sudanese capital Khartoum

The conflict unfolding in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and other regions has led to evacuations

Personnel from the Irish Defence Forces will be deployed to help evacuate citizens from Sudan.

The measure was approved by the government on Sunday amid a worsening security situation in the African country.

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it is in contact with more than 150 Irish citizens in Sudan.

Twelve armed forces personnel will initially be deployed to Djibouti, on the east African coast.

Fierce violence erupted last week in Sudan between two opposing forces.

The power struggle between the country’s regular army and a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has seen deadly shooting and shelling in the capital city, Khartoum and in other parts of the country.

The Emergency Civil Assistance Team (ECAT) will provide consular and other assistance to Irish citizens and their dependents being evacuated.

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar said the situation in Sudan is “extremely volatile”

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the situation in Sudan’s capital Khartoum had “got worse in the last few days, and violence is being reported across the city”.

“The situation on the ground in Sudan remains extremely volatile and I wish the ECAT and Defence Forces team every success in this mission,” he added.

The US and UK announced on Sunday that they had flown diplomats out of the country.

British diplomats and their families were evacuated from Sudan in a “complex and rapid” operation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed.

Mr Sunak said work was continuing to ensure the safety of British nationals who remain in Sudan.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said there were “specific threats and violence directed towards diplomats” which led to the decision to evacuate staff.

He said that by relocating the embassy to a nearby country, diplomats could provide more assistance to those in Sudan.

But he said the government’s ability to evacuate other British nationals was “severely limited” until fighting between warring parties stopped.

UK citizens in Sudan are being urged to tell the Foreign Office where they are in case more help becomes available, and a hotline has been set up for those who need urgent help.

Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Japan and the Netherlands said they were also organising evacuations, starting on Sunday.

On Saturday, more than 150 people, mostly citizens of Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, Pakistan and Canada were evacuated by sea to the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah.

The World Health Organization says the fighting has killed more than 400 people and injured thousands. However, the death toll is believed to be much higher as people are struggling to get healthcare, as most of Khartoum’s hospitals have been forced to close by the fighting.

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