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Sudan updates: Germany retroactively approves evacuations

Published April 26, 2023last updated April 27, 2023

The German parliament has given its approval to the emergency evacuation operation in Sudan. Meanwhile, civilians from over 50 countries have arrived in Saudi Arabia. DW has the latest.

Damaged buildings are seen following clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in South Khartoum locality, Sudan
The fighting in Khartoum has caused extensive damageImage: Stringer/REUTERS

The German parliament, the Bundestag, has given its approval for the evacuation operation carried out by the German military in Sudan, several days after it began.

It was a rare, almost unanimous vote in the Bundestag, with 663 in favor and none against. A handful of lawmakers abstained.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the operation had to begin without parliamentary approval due to the urgency of the situation, saying it could not have been delayed.

The Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, has flown some 700 people out of Sudan in the past days, 200 of which were German nationals. The defense ministry said that around 1,000 soldiers had been involved.

German lawmakers gave their approval for evacuations to continue until May 31. But for now, evacuation flights have ended.

The German Defense Ministry said the last Bundeswehr flight landed in Jordan on Tuesday evening with 78 people on board. 

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock praised the operation, especially the speed with which it came into action.

German defense minister explains evacuation operation

Here are other key headlines around the Sudan crisis for Wednesday, April 26:

Blinken and African Union Commission chairman discuss end to fighting

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed an end to the fighting in Sudan, the State Department said in a statement.

Both agreed to work together to create a sustainable way to end violence and to allow unhindered humanitarian access, according to the statement.

Army chief gives initial approval to extend truce by 72 hours

The leader of the Sudanese army, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has preliminarily greenlit a proposal by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to extend the current truce by another 72 hours, the army said in a statement.

The proposal by the African regional bloc suggests sending both an army and Rapid Support Forces envoys to Juda, the capital of South Sudan, to discuss details.

The truce brokered by the US has held up in some parts of the capital Khartoum, with some residents reporting a lull in fighting, while others reported gunfire.

The fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has killed more than 450 civilians, according to the World Health Organization.

Thousands flee Sudan amid shaky ceasefire

Rescued civilians reach Saudi Arabia, Turkey

A ship carrying 1,687 civilians fleeing violence in Sudan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the country's foreign ministry said.

The rescue operation was Saudi Arabia's largest so far after several planes and boatloads of people from Sudan arrived in the country in recent days.

Among the rescued civilians were 13 Saudi citizens while the rest of the passengers came from more than 50 other countries.

The group was "transported by one of the kingdom's ships, and the kingdom was keen to provide all the basic needs of foreign nationals in preparation for their departure," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A woman and a man, each holding a baby, disembark a ship in Saudi Arabia
The ship carried civilians from more than 50 countriesImage: Amer Hilabi/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, more than 100 Turkish civilians landed in Istanbul on Wednesday.

It was the first planeload of Turkish citizens out of Sudan, and flew via Ethiopia.

Several more flights are expected to evacuate the remaining Turkish citizens crossing into Ethiopia.

Numerous countries including the United States and Germany have evacuated their citizens from Sudan as fighting rages on between the Sudanese army under Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, more commonly known as Hemeti.   

Canada to deploy 200 troops to evacuate citizens

Canada will deploy about 200 troops to coordinate evacuations from Sudan, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said.

There are about 1800 Canadians in Sudan, out of which 700 have requested assistance from the foreign ministry, according to the Canadian government.

About 180 Canadians have already been evacuated from the region with the help of other countries, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said earlier in the day. 

Britain evacuates 301 people from Sudan

Britain hopes to complete eight evacuation flights by the end of Wednesday, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson.

The UK has an estimated 4,000 nationals in Sudan and has been criticized for a slow response in flying out citizens.

The government was criticized for initially only evacuating diplomats and their families from Sudan at the weekend. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the approach, saying diplomats had been evacuated first "because they were being targeted."

British-Sudanese author Rozan Ahmed said she tried to contact the British Embassy for a week before any evacuation plans were communicated. She and others mobilized to plan their escape, hiring a bus going towards Egypt.

"No solid plan was given to us a week later, which is when I decided to take matters into my own hands because I ran out of water," Ahmed said.

Darfur residents fear a resurgence of fighting

People living in the western Sudanese region of Darfur fear that the fighting in Khartoum could cause intense conflict in their homeland two decades after it was ravaged by a war that has never completely ended.

Violence is already on the rise in the largely desert region, with pillaging, ethnic reprisal attacks and clashes between the two conflicting factions reported from various locations.

The leaders of the two sides in the current fighting in Khartoum, army chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan and RSF head Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as "Hemeti," both cut their military teeth in Darfur.

Burhan rose up through the army ranks during fighting that began there in 2003-2004, while Hemeti was a leader of the Janjaweed, a horse-riding militia employed by the government to do much of the fighting. The Darfur conflict killed some 300,000 people and displaced millions more. 

The conflict has simmered ever since, with violence rising in the past two years even before the current fighting in the capital

Khartoum sees relative lull in fighting on Wednesday

Residents in the Sudanese capital have said fighting has become less intense on the second day of a three-day cease-fire, despite sporadic clashes early on Wednesday.

The lull in fighting has allowed many people to go out in search of food and water or join the thousands of people who have been leaving the city in recent days.

The 72-hour cease-fire was announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday and is planned to run until late on Thursday. However, it is not clear whether the current period of relative calm will last, with several failed truces in the past week.

Many fear that fighting will escalate after evacuations of foreign nationals have been completed. 

A ruined house in Khartoum
The fighting in Khartoum has caused extensive damageImage: Marwan Ali/Ap Photo/picture alliance

Omar al-Bashir in military hospital: reports

Sudan's jailed former strongman Omar al-Bashir is in a military hospital, officials said after his whereabouts came into question on Wednesday.

Questions arose over al-Bashir's whereabouts after a former minister in his government, Ali Haroun, claimed on Tuesday he had left the prison with other former officials amid the fighting.

But military officials later said Bashir and other detainees had been moved to a high-security military hospital in Khartoum before fighting started on April 15.

Bashir ruled Sudan for nearly 30 years and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in Darfur. He was overthrown after mass protests in 2019 and jailed for corruption.

Analysts say the "deep state" that underpinned Bashir's authoritarian rule is largely intact, noting that both army chief Burhan and RSF leader Hemeti served under him in the past.

No end in sight to fighting: UN

The United Nations' special envoy to Sudan said there is no sign of the fighting ending anytime soon.

Speaking via video link from Port Sudan late on Tuesday, Volker Perthes told the Security Council that neither the army nor the RSF showed readiness to "seriously negotiate, suggesting that both think that securing a military victory over the other is possible."

"This is a miscalculation," he said.

Perthes said both sides fought "with disregard for the laws and norms of war," having attacked densely populated areas with little consideration for civilians or even hospitals.

"The conflict will not, and must not, be resolved on the battlefield," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added.

ab, rm, zc/wd (AP, Reuters, AFP)