Britain’s rescue operation in Sudan is to end at midday today, the country’s deputy prime minister has said.
Oliver Dowden, the UK’s newly-minted deputy prime minister, has warned the remaining Britons stranded in Sudan that they have until midday today to catch an evacuation flight, with the country wrapping up its rescue operation in the country.
Rescue missions undertaken by the UK and other Western nations come amid a sudden escalation of violence in Sudan, with the rapid withdrawal drawing comparisons to the fall of Afghanistan in 2021.
According to a report by Sky News, Dowden has confirmed that remaining UK citizens in the African nations do not have much time left if they want to get airlifted out of the country.
“We gave a very clear signal over 24 hours ago that people should expect that as the ceasefire comes to an end, we would be winding down the number of flights,” the deputy prime minister said yesterday.
“We are now saying to those people, you have another 24 hours if you are eligible to make your way to the airport and we will get you on a plane, just as we have done for every other person that has come forward who is eligible, making it the longest and largest evacuation effort of any Western country,” he went on to say.
Officials in the UK have also confirmed that it will also be evacuating a number of people who are not British citizens on the last flight out of Sudan after pressure from trade unions.
The plea concerns a number of doctors in the country who — while not UK nationals — do regularly work for the country’s socialised National Health Service, an organisation that evokes near-religious devotion from many in Britain.
After some dawdling on the issue, the government has now reportedly confirmed that these workers will also be allowed on the last plane out of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, which is set to take off from an airbase around 15 miles out from the city centre.
How easily the last remaining evacuees will be able to get to this base remains to be seen, with a ceasefire between pro and anti-government forces in the country said to have almost completely broken down as of Saturday morning.
Initially agreed with the help of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the pause on fighting was always tenuous at best, with multiple reports indicating that sporadic fighting continued in the country despite claims that both sides had ordered their forces to put down their weapons for a period of three days.