Final evacuees airlifted out of Sudan expected to arrive back in UK

The mission to rescue British nationals from Sudan has ended, but many people from the UK are still stuck in the war zone, as ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

The UK’s aerial evacuation mission from Sudan is over, and the passengers on the final repatriation flights are expected to land in the UK within hours.

Two flights organised by the Royal Air Force (RAF) were expected to land in Cyprus late on Monday.

The evacuees, which include Sudanese doctors working for the NHS, were then expected be transported to the UK within 48 hours of landing at the Larnaca airbase, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said.

According to UK government figures, as of Monday at 5.30pm, the number of people repatriated from the war-torn African nation by Britain’s armed forces stood at 2,197.

The number of people who were on the last rescue flights, which left from Port Sudan, more than 500 miles east of the capital Khartoum, is expected to be announced by the Foreign Office on Tuesday.

While the UK government said it expected no more flights to leave following the bank holiday airlifts, Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster will remain in the Red Sea to support any further evacuation efforts from Sudan.

Officials said the UK’s focus would turn to the diplomatic and humanitarian response to the bloody conflict caused by a violent rivalry between two generals.

A fragile three-day ceasefire was holding together despite opposing troops clashing in Khartoum on Monday.

The British government had agreed to include NHS doctors without UK passports on its final journeys amid criticism over the scope of its eligibility criteria for evacuation.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “With thanks to the extraordinary efforts of staff and military, the UK has brought 2,197 people to safety from Sudan so far — the largest airlift by any Western nation.

“As the focus turns to humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, we will continue to do all we can to press for a long-term ceasefire and an immediate end to the violence in Sudan.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Yet again the men and women of our armed forces have led the way.

“In one week, the RAF have flown more than 20 flights, deployed over a thousand personnel, evacuated over 2,000 civilians and helped citizens from more than 20 countries to get home.

“HMS Lancaster will remain at Port Sudan and her crew will continue to help provide support.”

In addition to British nationals, the UK helped evacuate 1,087 people from other nations, including the US, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Australia.

HMS Lancaster will remain in the Red Sea to assist with further evacuations, the Defence Secretary said Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Following the final RAF repatriation flights, the FCDO said a UK team will continue to be based at Port Sudan to provide consular assistance, including to British nationals leaving by commercial routes.

British forces have handed over the co-ordination of evacuations at Wadi Seidna airfield to the north of Khartoum Sudanese authorities.

Members of the Royal Engineers carried out urgent repairs to the runway between flights, the first time an operational airfield has been repaired by British forces since the Falklands conflict in 1982.

There is hope in the West that an internationally-brokered ceasefire could be reached to quell the fighting.

The United Nations said the rival generals, Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan and General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), have agreed to send representatives to the negotiation table in a bid to establish a more stable truce.

Generals Burhan and Dagalo, both with powerful foreign backers, were allies in an October 2021 military coup that halted Sudan’s fraught transition to democracy, but they have since turned on each other.

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