At least 427 people killed since fighting started in Sudan, West pulls diplomats

Europe, China, and Japan raced to extract their citizens from Sudan on Monday and thousands more people used a partial lull in fighting between the army and a paramilitary force over the past two days to escape the country’s deepening crisis.

The sudden eruption of violence between the military and the well-armed Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group on April 15 has killed at least 427 people, knocked out hospitals and other services, and turned residential areas into war zones.

Tens of thousands of people, including Sudanese and citizens from neighbouring countries, have fled in the past few days, including to Egypt, Chad and South Sudan, despite chronic instability there.

“There is still a challenge in accessing food, there’s still a challenge accessing electricity and water and that is prompting people to move,” said Farid Aiywar, Sudan head for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

For those remaining in Africa’s third largest country, where U.N. agencies say a third of the 46 million population needed humanitarian assistance even before the violence, the situation is increasingly bleak.

Facing attacks, aid organisations were among those withdrawing staff and the World Food Programme has suspended its food distribution mission, one of the largest in the world.

Clean water has been hard to come by in Khartoum, and electricity and internet services patchy. Residents have been sharing resources.

Few expect the relative slowing of army air strikes, artillery barrages, and gun battles with the RSF in residential neighbourhoods to last once the international evacuation operations are complete.

“It’s not fair that all foreigners are leaving the country in these circumstances,” said Finland Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, adding that by disengaging diplomatically, the West risked allowing rival Russia to gain more influence in Sudan.

Several nations, including Canada, France, Poland, Switzerland and the United States have either suspended operations at their embassies in Sudan or closed them until further notice.

By Monday afternoon, fighting was beginning to pick up again. A large cloud of dark smoke could be seen near the international airport in central Khartoum, which is adjacent to army headquarters, and sounds of artillery fire could be heard, television images showed.


Nations including Gulf states and Russia were trying to get citizens out on Monday. Diplomats have been targeted in attacks, and at least five aid workers killed.

Spanish military plane and military vehicles depart on tarmac as Spanish diplomatic personnel and citizens are evacuated, in Khartoum

Despite sustained pressure from countries concerned by the conflict’s wider repercussions as well as the safety of their nationals, the two sides have not abided by a temporary truce.

However fighting calmed enough over the weekend for the United States and the United Kingdom to get embassy staff out, triggering a rush of evacuations of hundreds of foreign nationals by other countries.

Families with children crowded into Spanish and French military transport planes, while a group of nuns were among the evacuees on an Italian aircraft, photographs showed. Some of the flights left from the Wadi Seyidna air base north of Khartoum, the army said.

At least two convoys involved in evacuations came under attack at the weekend, including one carrying Qatari embassy staff and another carrying French citizens, one of whom was injured.

Several countries sent military planes from Djibouti to fly people out from the capital, while other operations took people by convoy to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is about 800 km (500 miles) by road from Khartoum. From there some have boarded ships to Saudi Arabia.


The army and RSF jointly staged a coup in 2021 but fell out during negotiations to integrate the two groups and form a civilian government four years after long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled.

Their rivalry has raised the risk of drawing in outside powers: Sudan has seven direct neighbours and sits strategically between Egypt, the Red Sea and the Sahel.

Beyond the capital, people are reported to have fled clashes in several areas including the western region of Darfur, as well as from Blue Nile State on the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, and North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum, according to a U.N. update.

The evacuation of international staff from Darfur, the war-torn western region where fighting has also escalated, is also under way, the source said.

Up to 20,000 people have already fled to Chad, U.N. agencies said last week. Officials in South Sudan’s Renk County said on Monday they had received about 10,000 people since the crisis started, saying three quarters were South Sudanese while the others were Sudanese, Eritrean, Kenyan, Ugandan and Somali.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, after a decades-long civil war. Since independence the new country has been beset by its own civil war, and refugees had previously spilled into its northern neighbour.

“Yesterday alone we received 3,000 people, and many people are still on the way because of transport. We have no fuel to bring them in,” said Renk county commissioner Kak Padiet.

Hundreds of people, including residents of Turkey, Djibouti, and other countries, have also arrived in the Ethiopian town of Metema Yohannes near the Sudan border, mayor Habtie Addisu said.

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