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An air force plane takes off from Khartoum with Spanish citizens on board. Encarni Escobar (Europa Press)

Spain evacuates a hundred people from Sudan over the weekend

Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares confirmed the emergency airlift of 30 Spanish nationals and 70 people of nine nationalities

Anje Ribera

Madrid

Monday, 24 April 2023, 10:25

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Spaniards caught up in the hostile conflict between powerful rival military factions in Sudan have finally been able to escape the country over the weekend.

Fighting broke out just over a week ago after several weeks of tension between the army and the powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Both groups were allies and together, actually seized power in a 2021 coup, but tensions boiled over following the proposed integration of the RSF into the military, increasing the threat of a civil war.

Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares confirmed Spanish citizens had been able to escape the African country on Saturday night, 22 April.

"The air force planes have taken off from Khartoum with our citizens on board," Albares announced on Twitter.

Aboard the flight to Djibouti there were also staff from the Spanish embassy in Sudan, as well as "other European and Latin American citizens".

"There were no incidents in the transfer of our convoy", reported Albares, who also called for "a ceasefire and a return to dialogue in Sudan".

Foreign Affairs and Defence ministries, which carried out the operation jointly, added that among the evacuees were more than 30 Spaniards and about 70 citizens of nine nationalities; Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Irish, Mexican, Venezuelan, Colombian, Argentinian and Sudanese.

Another group of Spaniards had voluntarily decided to remain in Sudan or to leave by their own means, as others had done earlier. About 64 Spanish soldiers were still to be deployed.

The operation started on Friday at Djibouti airport which involved four Air Force planes - three Airbus A400s and an A330 - which spent 48 hours transporting personnel and materials from Spain.

Nearly 200 ground and air military personnel, with the support of personnel from the Orion detachment based in Djibouti, took part in the evacuation, including the security arrangements to prevent incidents in the transfer of passengers from the embassy to the airport.

Most of the fighting is happening in the capital, Khartoum, but clashes were being reported across the entire country. At least 185 people were killed and thousands injured in just the first three days.

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