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Sudan: Stranded NHS doctors 'won't be evacuated' by UK gov't

Non-citizen NHS doctors in Sudan 'won't be evacuated' by UK government
3 min read
28 April, 2023
The UK Foreign Office has drawn criticism for refusing to evacuate Sudanese NHS doctors who hold UK residency and work permits, due to them not being British passport holders.
The UK Foreign Office said that those with British working permits must use 'other exit points' in order to evacuate [Getty]

Dozens of Sudanese doctors who work and live in the UK have been told they won’t be evacuated by the British government, as desperate foreign nationals scramble to flee the conflict-hit country.

The UK Foreign Office said those who "have existing entry clearance to the UK but are not dependent of a British passport" can still come to the UK via "other exit points", in a statement to The New Arab.

This indicates that UK residents who are not British nationals will remain stranded in Sudan until they find alternative means to leave the country.

The FCDO said that potential evacuees can cross into Egypt as an alternate exit point.

The Egyptian border, however, is hundreds of kilometres away from the capital Khartoum, as are other neighbouring countries such Ethiopia and Chad.

Many of those stuck are doctors who work within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) , including Dr Abdulrahman Babiker who works at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Dr Babiker told the BBC's Newsnight  programme that he feels "betrayed" and "disappointed" by the Foreign Office’s decision.

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The doctor, who worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, was visiting family during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, according to the British broadcaster.

He had initially made his way to the Wadi Seidna military base in the hopes of being evacuated, but was turned away and told he could not board under "the guidance of the Home Office".

Other doctors have faced similar treatment at evacuation points, according to The Independent.

The journey to the evacuation points has been described as perilous, with people having to pass through as many as 10 checkpoints.

According to ITV News, at least 74 NHS doctors have found themselves in such position.

Dr Latifa Patel, the chair of the representative body of the British Medical Association (BMA), criticised the UK government's decision and called on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to "ensure that these NHS doctors area able to get to safety".

"The government has a duty of care to ensure the safety of these NHS doctors who work hard to care for patients in the UK, including NHS doctors who are not British passport holders," she added in her statement.

The Royal Armed Forces (RAF) has airlifted at least 897 British nationals out of Sudan as of Thursday. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has urged any remaining citizens to leave the country before a temporary 72-hour ceasefire ends.

More than 2,000 British citizens are registered under the UK’s evacuation plan, but the number is estimated to be higher.

The UK initially only began evacuating diplomats and their families, prompting domestic criticism.

Fighting continues to rage between warring generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, which has killed 512 people. At least 75,000 people have fled into neighbouring Chad, Egypt and Ethiopia.

A 72-hour ceasefire extension was implemented on Thursday, which was welcomed by the US, the UK the African Union and the United Nations.