13-year-old stuck in wheelchair for 12 hours in UK airport after Sudan evacuation

Despite the evacuation efforts from the government, many Brits remained trapped in Sudan

A mother who fled the war in Sudan has said her young disabled son spent around 12 hours in his wheelchair while they waited to be allocated accommodation in the UK.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was evacuated with her 13-year-old son amid bloody clashes that have claimed at least 447 lives.

She had previously studied in the UK and her son, who has cerebral palsy, is a British citizen.

The mother told ITV News that after fighting erupted on April 15, her son "would wake up to gunshots" and "sleep to bombs".

During this time, the woman said she "gave up on getting evacuated" by the British authorities. The UK was criticised by some for airlifting embassy workers out of Sudan before it began repatriating its own civilians.

The mother and son eventually boarded a British flight, but while traveling to the UK, the child's wheelchair, which he relies on as he can't walk, broke. Following his ordeal, he began experiencing night terrors.

The mother describes waiting to be evacuated from the warzone

The mother and son landed at Birmingham airport on Friday evening, after traveling via Cyprus. They were taken to a holding area in the airport, where they were kept for roughly 12 hours, the woman told ITV News.

"We were not given any information, nobody communicated to us what was happening next. I was really, really tired and my son was exhausted... by then we had been traveling for two days," she said.

The passengers were given "small meals", she said, adding: "It was good for x amount of time, but it wasn't enough for 12 hours".

'I had nothing, I just felt helpless'

Her son remained hungry and kept asking his mother for snacks.

"As a single mother, I felt helpless, I couldn't help him, I was just waiting. Then I had a complete nervous breakdown.

"I just wanted my son to stretch his body because I know he gets spasms and he needed to relax a little bit... but I had nowhere to go."

After an intervention from Mia - a volunteer helping many evacuate from Sudan and supporting them once they arrive in the UK - the mother and son made their way to a hotel on Saturday morning.

British nationals in Sudan board an RAF aircraft for the evacuation of civilians. Credit: AP

They are without warm clothes and a working wheelchair, but the mother said there may be an upside to the evacuation.

"I know it could be better for my son - because we just walked around here, around the hotel and my son kept on saying that it is not as bumpy as Sudan," she said.

"Because in Sudan there are no paved roads. So my son is really happy here, he's happy with the trees and the animals he can see - he just saw a squirrel for the first time in his life. He saw a wild rabbit. So he is okay here but it's a massive sacrifice for me."

The battle for control of Sudan erupted after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

At least 447 civilians have been killed and more than 2,255 injured since the fighting began, according to figures on Monday by the Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that the number of people fleeing to neighboring countries could surpass 800,000. “We hope it doesn’t come to that, but if violence doesn’t stop we will see more people forced to flee Sudan seeking safety,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The UK evacuated 2,341 people from Sudan on 28 flights, according to No 10.

The final evacuation flights left Sudan on Monday for Cyprus, with anyone seeking to leave now relying on making their own way to safety through Port Sudan or at land borders into neighbouring countries.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.