Doha News has joined Qatari forces on a mission to evacuate civilians from Sudan.
Port Sudan, Sudan– More than 170 people stranded in Sudan have been evacuated by Qatar in the first such operation for the Gulf state since violence erupted in the country.
Residents of Qatar as well as citizens of “friendly nations” are being transported onboard an Amiri air force aircraft that landed in Port Sudan on Friday evening.
Sudanese doctor Nematalla Sabir described to Doha News her last few days in Khartoum.
“There is no normal life nor safety. I hope that God bestows peace on Khartoum and Sudan and that it returns better than it was,” the 24-year-old resident of Qatar said.
A 23-year-old Syrian had a similar experience.
“Life at Khartoum was so difficult when I left it[…]to the point where you can’t even purchase basic necessities.” -Mohamad Ahmad Alsayed Amin, who also lives in Qatar, told Doha News.
Doha News understands from sources that similar flights are scheduled in the upcoming week, although this depends on how the volatile situation unravels on the ground.
The Amiri air force aircraft took off from Al Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state earlier on Friday carrying more than 50 tonnes of aid, marking the first of at least six other essential deliveries expected to be sent as part of an air bridge to Sudan.
Friday’s delivery contained some 50 tonnes of food supplies provided by Qatar Charity, Qatar Red Crescent Society and the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).
Speaking to Doha News at the military base in Qatar, Sudan’s ambassador to the Gulf state Abd Al Rahim Al Siddig Mohammed noted that the aid delivery is a “positive step”.
“The aid is highly important given that the people of Sudan are going through a difficult period in time, especially under the rebellion that the Rapid Support Forces are causing in Khartoum that has led to displacements,” the Sudanese envoy said.
On the ground in Sudan, the violent conflict has continued to rage on between the Sudanese army, headed by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary unit led by former militia leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti.
On Thursday, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said the fighting is likely to continue as neither party has an incentive to stop.
“The fighting in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is, we assess, likely to be protracted as both sides believe that they can win militarily and have few incentives to come to the negotiating table,” Haines told a US Senate hearing on Thursday.
“Both sides are seeking external sources of support, which, if successful, is likely to intensify the conflict and create a greater potential for spillover challenges in the region,” she said.
Heavy fighting around the presidential palace on Thursday signalled a break in a ceasefire that was initially scheduled to last for seven days.
Flights at the Khartoum International Airport have been grounded since the fighting broke out mid April and the facility is currently out of operations. So far, at least 550 have been killed as civilians face the brunt of the violence.
Shelling and crossfire between the conflicting parties has forced thousands of civilians to flee for safety, many of whom have headed for the borders in a desperate bid to flee the country. Global efforts have shifted away from the capital and set up evacuation operations in Port Sudan.
Haines warned the escalating violence is “raising the spectre of massive refugee flows and aid needs in the region”.
On 23 April, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al Ansari confirmed all Qatar citizens were evacuated with the help of Saudi Arabia.
Doha News has joined Qatari forces on the mission to deliver aid and evacuate civilians from Sudan.
More updates to follow.