Sudan crisis: Sudan airlift continues as ministers defend UK response to the crisis
Flights began landing in Cyprus on Tuesday evening and continued through the night, with more planned on Wednesday.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on Wednesday morning that 200 to 300 people had been brought out so far.
She said: “We are now commencing an extensive operation, working with over 1,000 personnel from the RAF and the armed forces.”
With British citizens, dual nationals and their dependents forced to make their own way to the Wadi Saeedna airstrip where the evacuation flights are taking off from, Ms Braverman defended the UK’s response to the crisis.
The Government had to cope with a “larger cohort of British nationals in Sudan compared to many other countries”, she said.
British forces are expected to take over control of running Wadi Saeedna from German troops, something which could require a larger UK military presence on the ground.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said 120 British troops have already been supporting the operation there.
The UK military could be ready to use force if needed to protect the air base in the event it comes under attack during the airlift, although the troops are primarily there to help with logistics and providing air traffic control.
The Government is also considering other options, including a possible seaborne evacuation from Port Sudan, some 500 miles from the capital.
HMS Lancaster and the RFA Cardigan Bay have been sent to the region.
Announcing the completion of Germany’s evacuation efforts, the country’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not leave civilians “to their own devices”, in an apparent swipe at the UK’s approach.
She said that “unlike in other countries”, Germany’s evacuation had included all its nationals and not just embassy staff.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was “right” that diplomats were prioritised “because they were being targeted”.
The mission was launched during a ceasefire brokered between the warring factions. But Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned the extraction of UK nationals is “inherently dangerous” as “we cannot be sure for how long it will hold”.
A UK-born student attempting to flee Sudan said she did not have enough petrol to make the dangerous one-hour drive from the outskirts of Khartoum to the airstrip.
“I’m trying to get there. But the problem is the vehicles that we have have no gas, and the petrol stations are empty,” Samar Eltayeb, 20, from Birmingham, told the PA news agency.
“There’ll be constant flights within the next few days, but if I can’t find gas to get there, then I’m stuck.”
More than 2,000 British citizens have registered in Sudan with the FCDO.
Families with children or elderly relatives, or individuals with medical conditions, will be prioritised for the flights.
Only British passport holders and immediate family members with existing UK entry clearance are being told they are eligible.
Nationals have been warned all travel within Sudan is “conducted at your own risk”.
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