Kenya begins evacuating at least 400 as Sudan conflict rages on

Khartoum International Airport

This video grab taken from AFPTV video footage on April 20, 2023, shows an aerial view of black smoke rising above the Khartoum International Airport in Sudan, amid ongoing battles between the forces of two rival generals. 

Photo credit: AFP

The Kenyan government has begun evacuating its citizens stuck in Sudan with the help of neighbouring countries, as the conflict there continues.

Dr Alfred Mutua, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, said on Monday that the government expects to evacuate up to 400 nationals, who have so far registered with authorities to be rescued from that country.

It will take land and air travel for the programme to be completed, via at least four countries.

"I wish to thank South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for granting permission for Kenyan planes meant to evacuate stranded Kenyans in Sudan, to overfly their airspaces" Dr Mutua said.

Dr Mutua's statement was as follows:

The rescue is being conducted in coordination with the Kenya Air Force, the ministry said, adding it has three active evacuation programmes.

Under the first programme, Kenya has already facilitated the return of 29 students, who crossed the border to Ethiopia by road.

"They are on the way to Gondor, from where they will fly to Addis Ababa then to Nairobi," Dr Mutua said of the route to Ethiopia via the eastern parts of Sudan.

Most of the stranded Kenyans are students in Khartoum, reflecting Sudan's recent position as a higher learning destination for many from East Africa nations.

In the second programme, a Kenya Air Force aircraft is due to airlift another group of 18 students, who are currently traveling by road to the South Sudan border.

Under the third plan, the CS said a large group of Kenyans on a “well-planned programme of travel” will fly from Port Sudan to Jeddah in two aircrafts, and thereafter travel to Nairobi via Kenya Airways.

“We estimate to ferry 300-400 Kenyans this way, if not more," Dr Mutua said.

He also added via Twitter that:

Sudan's conflict, between army boss Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's forces and paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has entered its 10th day.

The AFP news agency, quoting the World Health Organization, reported that the fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has left at least 420 dead and 3,700 injured so far.

Thousands of foreigners, including diplomats, staff and aid workers, remain stranded as the fighting spreads from Khartoum to other parts of the country.