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Sudan updates: Germany completes evacuation

Published April 25, 2023last updated April 26, 2023

Germany evacuated 120 people from Sudan with a final evacuation flight. Countries have rushed to evacuate citizens from Sudan during a shaky cease-fire between the army and paramilitaries. DW has the latest.

A view of the damaged Yunus Emre Institute
Many buildings, including the Turkish cultural center, the Yunus Emre Institute, have been damaged in fighting in KhartoumImage: Omer Erdem/AA/picture alliance

Germany's Bundeswehr has flown out another 120 people from Sudan to Jordan, from where they will fly to Germany, the military's Operations Command said on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

"The last evacuation flight from Sudan to Jordan for now will take place this evening," Germany's foreign and defense ministries said earlier in a joint statement.

"No further German evacuation flights from this region are planned", the ministries said.

The evacuation mission began on Sunday. The air force has evacuated a total of more than 600 people.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Berlin is still "working on ways to safety" for German citizens that are still in Sudan.

Germany has been leading international evacuation efforts out of an airbase near Sudanese capital Khartoum. Army officials were in talks with countries on who would take over after the last flight organized by Germany.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that the UK would "stand ready and prepared to take over from (Germany) should they decide the evacuation is finished."

Here are other key headlines around the Sudan crisis for Tuesday, April 25:

WHO warns of biological hazard in Khartoum

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Khartoum residents were at risk due to one of the fighting factions in Sudan capturing a laboratory which is holding various pathogens. The UN body did not say which of the two sides involved in the current conflict was occupying the facility. The lab is storing cholera bacteria and other potentially dangerous items.

Technicians had been unable to access the National Public Health Laboratory to secure the materials, the WHO's Nima Saeed Abid told reporters in Geneva via video link from Sudan.

"This is the main concern: no accessibility to the lab technicians to go to the lab and safely contain the biological material and substances available," he said, speaking of a "huge biological risk."

Fighting in Sudan between armed forces loyal to de facto leader General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries supporting his deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, broke out on April 15.

At least 459 people have been killed, according to WHO figures, and hospitals and essential services have been paralyzed.

The intense fighting has forced the UN's humanitarian office (OCHA) to scale back some of its activities in parts of the country, and two other UN agencies, the International Organization for Migration and the World Food Program, have suspended work after some of their staff were killed.

UNHCR preparing for massive refugee exodus

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned that the fighting in Sudan might cause hundreds of thousands to leave the country.

UNHCR officials said in Geneva that they are preparing for the exodus of some 270,000 people.

Sudan itself hosts more than 1 million refugees, many fleeing conflicts elsewhere, such as in South Sudan. It also has 3.7 million of its own internally displaced people, according to UN data.

A UNHCR representative for South Sudan said the agency was planning for 125,000 South Sudanese refugees temporarily residing in Sudan to return home and for some 45,000 new Sudanese refugees to arrive. South Sudan officials say 10,000 refugees have already arrived there in recent days.

The representative for Chad said 100,000 refugees were expected from Sudan in a worst-case scenario. She said some 20,000 had already arrived.

UNHCR added that it had reports of people starting to arrive in Egypt, but no exact numbers.

Other countries bordering Sudan that are likely to see refugees coming are Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Libya.

Sudan truce holds overnight despite sporadic gunfire in Khartoum

Following the announcement of the US-brokered cease-fire agreement late on Monday, the night passed without much incident.

There were, however, reports of sporadic gunfire in the capital, Khartoum.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces accused the Sudanese Armed Forces of breaking the terms of the cease-fire by flying its aircraft over the city, AFP reported.

The regular army has carried out numerous airstrikes over the past 10 days.

According to the UN, at least 3,700 have been wounded since fighting broke out between the RSF and the military.

UK announces evacuation of citizens

The British government on Tuesday announced it will be initiating the evacuation of its citizens from Sudan. This comes after Sudan's opposing factions agreed on a temporary cease-fire lasting for 72 hours.

"The government has begun a large-scale evacuation of British passport holders from Sudan on RAF flights," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter.

According to the British government, military flights will be departing from an airfield located outside of Khartoum. These flights will be available only to individuals with British passports, with priority given to family groups accompanied by children, senior citizens and individuals with medical conditions.

On Sunday, Britain airlifted diplomats out of Sudan, but the move has sparked criticism that ordinary UK citizens had been left behind. 

Switzerland looking for evacuation opportunities

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said Tuesday that they are closely monitoring the situation in Sudan to identify any opportunities to evacuate their citizens who are still in the country.

However, he also admitted it might not be possible to evacuate those individuals who also hold Sudanese nationality.

Switzerland has already closed its embassy in Sudan and successfully evacuated its staff and their families during a brief cease-fire. They arrived in Bern early on Tuesday morning.

Speaking at the Bern airport, Cassis explained there are "windows of opportunity" to evacuate those who wish to leave the country and are allowed to do so.

He also mentioned that Switzerland is working with other Western nations on possible further repatriation.

The majority of the roughly 100 Swiss nationals who remain in Sudan are joint nationals with Sudanese passports, according to the foreign minister.

France evacuates 538 people

French President Emmanuel Macron said France has evacuated 538 people from Sudan, after the cease-fire came into force. Of those people, 209 were French citizens, he added.

Macron also said the injuries sustained by a French soldier during the evacuation were no longer life-threatening.

The French Foreign Ministry had earlier announced it had closed its embassy in Khartoum "until further notice."

Maersk suspends Sudan bookings

The container shipping company, A.P. Moller-Maersk, has announced it has suspended all new bookings of goods for Sudan due to the ongoing violent clashes in the country.

Maersk further stated that it is keeping a close watch on the situation and exploring ways to maintain the stability of its supply chain services in Sudan.

"Given the current situation, we have temporarily halted new bookings until the situation improves," the Danish shipping giant said in its statement.

Cyprus offers to assist evacuations

Authorities in Cyprus announced they have activated a rescue mechanism to evacuate third-country nationals from Sudan.

"The Republic of Cyprus intends to offer facilities to friendly countries for the repatriation of their nationals through Cyprus," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Cyprus officials have offered assistance in similar crises before — most notably when tens of thousands had to be evacuated from Lebanon in 2006.

tg/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)