Thousands flee Sudan’s main port in search of ships to safety


Thousands have landed in a port city in eastern Sudan in recent days, fleeing violence in the capital and trying to get to safety on ships sailing across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

The coastal city of Port Sudan – the country’s largest port – has been transformed into a hub for people displaced by the war, with people using clothes and chairs to make makeshift tents, packing a local amusement park for shelter Are and wait for help in three- digit heat.

Saudi Arabia has played a central role in the evacuation of more than 5,000 foreigners from Sudan since fighting broke out two weeks ago between the armies of two rival Sudanese generals. Saudi Arabia is one of the closest countries to Sudan – less than 150 miles across the Red Sea – and has the means to manage large-scale evacuations.

The campaign also fits into efforts by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to position Saudi Arabia as a rising global power and neutral arbiter. Saudi officials have ties to both of Sudan’s warring generals, and Saudi Arabia is a member of the Group of Four countries that have tried and failed to steer Sudan under civilian-led rule.

Although international evacuations are now focused on Port Sudan, tens of thousands more have fled by land in Chad, Egypt and South Sudan. confrontation explosion occurred between the Sudanese army and rapid support forcea paramilitary group.

According to the United Nations, at least 50,000 people have left Sudan since the fighting began, and according to the World Health Organization more than 500 civilians have been killed in the violence. The true number of casualties is likely to be much higher.

The conflict has thrown Africa’s third-largest country into chaos, with many displaced but unsure of how to escape the violence. A three-day extension to the latest ceasefire was announced on Sunday, but heavy fighting was still reported in the capital Khartoum, including allegations by the Rapid Support Force, or RSF, that the army was shelling its positions Was.

Off the coast of Port Sudan, video footage and images shared on social media showed families waiting in the scorching sun in temperatures of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people were resting on suitcases that contained some of the things they had taken.

But unlike Khartoum, there was no fighting in Port Sudan, and restaurants and grocery stores were open, said Yasir Zeidan, lecturer in international affairs at Sudan’s National University, on Monday. Mr Zeidan, a US permanent resident who arrived in Port Sudan with a US convoy on Sunday morning, said the city was under military control and the convoy passed through army posts on the way.

He said that behind the hotel where he was waiting for news from the American consul, there was an amusement park with roller coasters and other rides. The park was crowded with women, children and old people suffering from the heat.

“It’s becoming more like a refugee camp,” he said.

Saudi Arabia said its rescue operation, using warships and private chartered vessels, had evacuated 5,197 people of 100 nationalities as of Sunday, of whom only 184 were Saudis. But the supply is much higher than the demand.

So far, some Sudanese who are dual citizens have been deported. But many people waiting to leave Port Sudan only hold Sudanese passports, and there are concerns they could be stuck in port indefinitely as the country prioritizes expelling dual citizens. For those without passports, survival may be even more difficult.

Some of those who boarded the ship for the 180-mile trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, wept for the home and family they had to leave behind.

The head of Saudi Arabia’s General Department of Passports said the country will grant free visas to all foreign nationals expelled from Sudan on legal grounds, but they must have a plan to leave the kingdom. Details of the process remained unclear on Monday.

Saudi media immediately praised the kingdom’s evacuation efforts. Newspapers carried pictures of Saudi soldiers welcoming the displaced in Jeddah, handing out flowers and cradling children. Some held small Saudi flags.

Sudan already hosted the largest refugee population in Africa: about 1.1 million peopleAccording to the UN refugee agency, most of them are from South Sudan. Many of them, including Yemenis and Syrians, are now again trying to flee to safety. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, some 3,000 South Sudanese are fleeing back to their fragile country every day.

The 500-mile journey from Khartoum to Port Sudan is a harrowing one. Mr Zaidan fled with his wife on Saturday afternoon, leaving his grandparents behind, and passed through several RSF checkpoints on his way out of the city. He said that once the paramilitary forces stole cellphones and gold ornaments from a woman on board one of the seven American buses.

When they arrived in Port Sudan, the scene was chaotic, they said, and there was no American representative to tell them or the other 140 people in the American convoy how they would be evacuated. He said some US citizens had been waiting three days without news, and the price of a place on a private ship was rising rapidly, if one could be found.

A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said on Sunday that US officials would “continue to assist US citizens and others who are eligible for onward travel to Jeddah,” where additional US personnel were.

Aid is starting to arrive in Port Sudan. Eight tons of medical supplies sent by the Red Cross were unloaded there on Sunday, the organization said, but it was not immediately clear where it was going. The United Nations said the aid delivery was delayed because its supplies had been looted in Sudan.

Even before the conflict began, many Sudanese were suffering from starvation. The World Food Programme, which suspended its work in Sudan after three staffers were killed, resumed operations on Monday – although it said 16,000 metric tonnes of food had been looted. About 16 percent of its stock in the country. According to Eddie Rowe, country director of the food program, speaking to Port Sudan, the remainder was not enough to carry them through the lean season.

“With this unprecedented struggle, millions of people are on the brink,” he said.

ahmed al omran And Declan Walsh Contributed reporting.

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