Sudan: UK flight carrying British citizens lands Cyprus as part of long-awaited evacuation efforts

Sudan: UK flight carrying British citizens lands Cyprus as part of long-awaited evacuation efforts
Amid domestic criticism, a British military plane arrived in Cyprus from Sudan as part of evacuation efforts in the wake of intense fighting between rival military groups in Khartoum
2 min read
25 April, 2023
Ten days into the conflict, the UK has started a mission to evacuate British nationals [source: Getty]

A UK military plane has landed in Cyprus from Sudan as part of Britain's efforts to evacuate its citizens from the war-torn country amid widespread criticism over a delayed UK response to the situation. 

The Royal Air Force flight took off from Khartoum on Tuesday and landed in Cyprus late in the afternoon, with another plane expected to land on the island the same day. 

The UK government had advised citizens stuck in Sudan to head to an airfield north of the capital where the evacuation efforts are centred, changing their original advice which told people not to head to the airbase unless they were contacted.

It is unclear how many people were on the plane. The UK foreign office has not responded to a request for comment from The New Arab. 

The government department said in a statement earlier on Tuesday: "Flights will be open to those with British passports and priority will be given to family groups with children and/or the elderly or individuals with medical conditions.

"We are working with international partners to arrange this departure and thank them for their co-operation. We are also working on other potential options for helping British nationals leave Sudan, including from other points of exit." 

Some 4,000 Britains with dual nationality and 400 with UK-only passports were in Sudan when fighting erupted between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Monday that British diplomats and their families were evacuated in a "complex and rapid" operation. 

However, British citizens in Sudan have complained of being abandoned by the government, with many not trusting their rapidly-changing advice. 

One unnamed British person who spoke to the Guardian called the evacuation a "s***show" and said they had not received any messages from the Foreign Office. 

A 72-hour ceasefire came into effect across the country just after midnight on Tuesday as foreign nations stepped up their efforts to swiftly remove citizens from the country. 

More than 4,000 people have fled Sudan in internationally organised evacuation operations, including 700 Pakistanis, 138 Ukrainians and 538 French. 

At least 459 people have been killed in the country and over 4,000 wounded since fighting broke out on April 15.