By: Samuel Lin
BOOM! Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! BOOM! The sounds of heavy artillery, explosions, and warplanes droning overhead are deafening. Thick, suffocating, gray smoke swirls into a huge column, reaching the skies. Buildings lay in ruin; chunks of debris and dust scatter the ground. In the midst of war flames in Khartoum, many countries are rushing to evacuate their citizens from the ruins of the capital of Sudan.
The war rages on between two rival military groups: Sudan’s Army, led by General Abel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by General Mohamed Hamdan. Starting on April 15th, the battle for power among authorities in Sudan comes at the expense of innocent civilians. There have been at least 500 deaths, and 4,500 injured so far. The fighting rages on, despite attempts at a ceasefire or truce.
What I am seeing is thick smoke,” said Ahmad Mahmoud, a local of Khartoum who witnessed an explosion in Burri. “What I am hearing is shelling and gunshots. Khartoum is becoming extremely unsafe.”
Foreign residents and dual citizens are being evacuated out from the treacherous battlefield to a safe haven. For instance, the U.K. has evacuated 2,314 of its citizens out of Khartoum using aircraft flights from Wadi Saeedna airport. Germany has airlifted 700 people as of April 26th, and France has airlifted 936 people as of April 27th.
However, the US has been lagging behind, beginning to evacuate its citizens long after other countries have finished their evacuation. Although American officials and American diplomats were evacuated on April 23rd via helicopter, American citizens did not evacuate until April 28th. Around 200 to 300 American citizens were driven on buses 500 miles to the Port of Sudan, while drones flying overhead kept vigilant watch of any dangers. Then at the Port of Sudan, a ship took them across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.
The evacuation out of Sudan is not a safe trip. For example, an Egyptian diplomat, Mohamed Al-Gharawl was killed during an evacuation in Sudan. In addition, a Turkish aircraft evacuating Turkish citizens came under fire in a Khartoum airport. One crew member was wounded and the plane was severely damaged.
Many regular Sudanese citizens are also trying to escape by land to neighboring countries, such as north to Egypt or west to Chad. Egypt and other countries are reluctantly accepting the refugees, with fear there may be too many refugees to handle.
“At least 20,000 Sudanese have arrived in Chad and nearly 4,000 South Sudanese refugees have returned to South Sudan,” said Faith Kasina, a spokesperson for the U.N. “These new arrivals are placing additional strain on these countries that already have public services and resources significantly overstretched.”
Those who were unable to flee Khartoum are facing troubles with fresh food and water supplies.