We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Residential buildings damaged in fighting are seen in Khartoum. Alamy Stock Photo

More than 70 Irish citizens evacuated from Sudan as sporadic gunfire dents 72-hour ceasefire

The Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces both confirmed that they have agreed to the ceasefire.

LAST UPDATE | 25 Apr 2023

MORE THAN 70 Irish citizens have been safely evacuated from Sudan.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin confirmed today that 72 Irish citizens and their families have been evacuated to Djibouti, in east Africa, and to Jordan in the Middle East since evacuation operations began over the weekend.

Martin added that teams in Nairobi in Kenya, Djibouti, and here at home are “continuing to work intensively to secure further evacuations”.

Martin also said he is “grateful for (the) solidarity and support of our EU partners”.

Yesterday, Martin estimated that around 150 Irish citizens registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Sudan before the evacuations began.

He confirmed that up to 12 Defence Forces personnel will be deployed, originally to Djibouti in East Africa.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs said the evacuation of 72 Irish citizens is “part of the ongoing, coordinated evacuation of EU citizens”. 

“Our officials in Dublin and Nairobi are leading the evacuation effort and continuing to support citizens and their families still in Sudan,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson also explained the work of the Emergency Civil Assistance Team (ECAT) and Consular team who are based in Djibouti.

“Like all ECATs, it is led by Department of Foreign Affairs personnel and supported by Defence Forces personnel. Up to 12 Defence Forces personnel are involved.

“It is working with those evacuated through Djibouti, helping to arrange accommodation when needed and supporting and advising on onward arrangements, including the logistical elements of travel to Ireland if they choose.”

The Department spokesperson also said the deployment of ECAT in Sudan will “depend on operational and security criteria”. 

“Whether, and when, the ECAT will deploy to Sudan will depend on operational and security criteria,” said the Department spokesperson.

“The duration of the mission will be dependent on the progress that can be made, the security situation on the ground and decisions on extraction by partners.

“The security of the team, and of our citizens and their family members, is paramount.”

The spokesperson confirmed that the Irish Embassy in Kenya is “aware of more than one hundred Irish citizens who are still in Sudan”. 

All Irish citizens still in Sudan have been asked to “exercise caution and observe local restrictions” and to “urgently register” with the Embassy in Kenya if they have not already done so.

Irish citizens still in Sudan should follow the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya on Twitter (@IrlEmbKenya) for updated advice.

The Embassy’s out of hours consular assistance phone line can be contacted at +254 716 353 999, and the Department of Foreign Affairs can be contacted at +353 1 408 2000.


A US-brokered ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals is largely holding in the capital today, however, some sporadic gunfire could be heard throughout the morning. 

Last night, US secretary of state Antony Blinken announced that he had helped broker a new 72-hour ceasefire. The truce is to last until late on Thursday night, extending a nominal three-day truce over the weekend for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to the ceasefire “following intense negotiations”, Blinken said in a statement.

Three previous bids to pause the conflict had failed to take hold, but both sides confirmed they had agreed to the three-day halt of armed hostilities.

The RSF tweeted that “this ceasefire aims to establish humanitarian corridors, allowing citizens and residents to access essential resources, healthcare and safe zones, while also evacuating diplomatic missions”.

The army pledged it would abide by the ceasefire on condition its rivals did so, in a statement on Facebook.

The European Union welcomed the announcement. “We urge both sides to fully uphold it,” its top diplomat Josep Borrell said.

embeddedccea42d92e8849dfa1fbd54f9467673f Jordanians evacuated form Sudan arrive to a military airport in Amman Raad Adayleh / PA Images Raad Adayleh / PA Images / PA Images

However, security fears have been compounded after the World Health Organization warned of an “extremely dangerous” risk after fighters occupied a Khartoum laboratory holding samples of polio, measles and other infectious diseases.

10 days of heavy fighting until today – including air strikes and artillery barrages – have killed hundreds of people, many of them civilians, and left some neighbourhoods of greater Khartoum in ruins.

Much of the city of five million has seen a reduction in fighting, witnesses said, since foreign governments have scrambled road convoys, aircraft and ships to get their nationals out since the weekend.

Thousands of Sudanese have tried to flee to Egypt, and the United Nations has warned it is bracing for an exodus of up to 270,000 refugees to Sudan’s even poorer neighbours Chad and South Sudan.

Mass exodus

At least 459 people have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded in the fierce fighting across Africa’s third-biggest country, according to UN agencies.

More than 4,000 people have fled Sudan in foreign-organised evacuations that began on Saturday, including by sea to Saudi Arabia and by aircraft to Jordan and Cyprus.

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned today that Sudan is on “the edge of the abyss” and that the violence “could engulf the whole region and beyond”.

Millions of Sudanese who are unable to flee are trying to survive acute shortages of water, food, medicine and fuel as well as power and internet blackouts.

The United States and European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian nations have launched emergency operations to bring to safety embassy staff and Sudan-based citizens.

The first flight carrying British nationals left Sudan earlier today and has arrived in Cyprus, the BBC reported.

Two more trips to take place overnight, Downing Street has said.

UK citizens were being processed for evacuation at an airfield in Khartoum today.

The British Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said in the afternoon: “The first flight has left and you can expect that there will be at least two more flights overnight tonight but that is subject to change.”

The situation is “fast-moving” but the flight that has already left is expected to arrive in Cyprus later, Downing Street said.

People will be moving “fairly rapidly” from RAF Akrotiri to the UK, it added.

Germany has announced its last evacuation flight will take off this evening to Jordan.

spain-sudan Citizens of different nationalities, fleeing from Sudan, sit inside a Spanish Air Force aircraft on its way to Madrid Spanish Defence Ministry / PA Images Spanish Defence Ministry / PA Images / PA Images

A UN convoy carrying 700 people today completed an arduous 850-kilometre road trip to Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast from the capital.

The United Nations head of mission Volker Perthes said the convoy arrived safely. A UN statement separately said he and other key staff will “remain in Sudan and will continue to work towards a resolution to the current crisis”.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson from Concern said an Irish citizen was part of this convoy, alongside 12 non-Sudanese Concern staff.

The Concern spokesperson added: “Port Sudan is currently safe and free from fighting and Concern are currently making arrangements to evacuate them from Sudan.

“All other Concern staff remaining in Sudan (about 140 of them) are currently remaining within their homes. Our programmes remain suspended due to the current security situation.”

GOAL international employees in Khartoum were also part of the UN convoy.

Speaking to The Journal, Paul Westbury, GOAL’s East Africa Security Advisor said “there were a lot of humanitarians on it”.

He added that it “isn’t easy” to manoeuvre a convoy of that size out of Khartoum for what ended up being a 36-hour journey.

“Yes, it was a long journey, but they understood it’s not going to be easy,” said Westbury.

“You have to negotiate through roadblocks, make sure that everyone is safe, if a vehicle breaks down, you have to make sure that it’s not left behind.

“You can’t expect drivers to drive for 20-25 hours, they need breaks, otherwise it adds to the risk.

“So all those things contribute to the frustrations and all those things need to be taken into account.

“People have to realise that you’re not going to make this journey in the time you would normally do it. It is going to take three or four times as long to do those journeys if you’re doing it safely.

“The people arranging these convoys, their primary role is to get from A to B as safely as they can so people are safe and secure. We don’t want to take risks with people’s lives,” said Westbury.

embeddeddee9a086b99645da9126c4b318dbd9fb The first group of Kenyan evacuees from Sudan arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Brian Inganga / PA Images Brian Inganga / PA Images / PA Images

History of coups

Sudan, one of the world’s poorest nations, has a troubled history of military coups.

The latest conflict has pitted forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against those of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the RSF.

The Forces of Freedom and Change – the main civilian bloc which the two generals ousted from power in a 2021 coup – voiced hope the truce would allow for “dialogue on the modalities of a permanent ceasefire”.

The RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militia that then-president Omar al-Bashir unleashed in the Darfur region two decades ago, leading to war crimes charges against Bashir and others.

The military toppled Bashir in April 2019 following mass citizen protests that raised hopes for a transition to democracy.

The two generals seized power in the 2021 coup, but later fell out, most recently over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.

Experts have long drawn links between the RSF and Russian mercenary group Wagner. Blinken earlier on Monday voiced “deep concern” that Wagner risked aggravating the war in Sudan.

© AFP 2023 with additional reporting from Diarmuid Pepper and Hayley Halpin


Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel