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Smoke rising in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Department of Foreign Affairs in contact with Irish citizens in Sudan, says Tánaiste

Ships carrying civilians from 11 different countries landed in the Saudi port of Jeddah today.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Apr 2023

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs is in contact with 125 Irish citizens in Sudan, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has said.

The first civilians to be evacuated from the conflict-ridden country arrived in Saudi Arabia today.

A boat Saudi citizens and other nationals rescued from battle-scarred Sudan arrived this afternoon in Jeddah, according to Saudi state television, in the first announced evacuation of civilians since fighting began.

Sources say contingency planning is underway for Irish citizens in the north African country.

The Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) would need to be actioned to evacuate Irish citizens. ECAT comprises the Army Ranger Wing and personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs, but it’s expected aircraft from other countries would also be needed for such an operation

The first evacuation vessel from Sudan arrived in the Saudi port of Jeddah earlier today, carrying 50 Saudi citizens and civilians from a number of other countries.

Saudi state media announced the “safe arrival” of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries – Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philipines, Canada and Burkina Faso.

The evacuees were received by officials and soldiers who distributed sweets on the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, footage showed.

Women and children holding Saudi flags were also seen getting off one of the ships.

Fighting in Sudan’s capital entered a second week today as crackling gunfire shattered a temporary truce, the latest battles between forces of rival generals that have already left hundreds dead and thousands wounded.

Hundreds have died due to the battles between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has held an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss assistance for the British nationals trapped in Sudan.


The Sudanese army has said it is coordinating efforts to take diplomats from the UK, the US, China and France out of the country on military planes, as fighting persists in the capital, including at its main airport.

Junior Minister Seán Fleming said today that there are currently no plans to evacuate Irish citizens in Sudan.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One, Fleming said there are around 180 Irish citizens there, including 79 families. He said 124 people have made contact with the Irish embassy in Kenya.

He said: “There are reports of evacuations happening and I think that’s premature, the airports aren’t safe to go in and out of, so it’s important that the full facts of the situation are taken into consideration.

“There’s no security people can rely on to get planes in and out, all of that has to be examined before any evacuation can take place.”

Countries have struggled to bring their citizens out amid deadly clashes that have killed more than 400 people so far.

Irish charities Concern and Goal have issued calls for their staff in Sudan to “hibernate” by staying indoors as violent clashes continue between rival factions vying for control of the north-east African country.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it was moving additional troops and equipment to a naval base in the tiny Gulf of Aden nation of Djibouti to prepare for the possible evacuation of US Embassy personnel from Sudan.

Yesterday, the US said it had no plans for a government-coordinated evacuation of an estimated 16,000 American citizens trapped in Sudan, and continued to urge US nationals to shelter in place.

Fighting enters second week

Overnight, the heavy explosions that had previously rocked the city in recent days had subsided, but this morning, bursts of gunfire resumed.

Heavy gunfire, loud explosions, and fighter jets roared in many parts of the capital, according to witnesses.

Violence broke out on 15 April between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The former allies seized power in a 2021 coup but later fell out in a bitter power struggle.

The army announced yesterday that it had “agreed to a ceasefire for three days” for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called for a day earlier.

Daglo said in a statement he had “discussed the current crisis” with Guterres, and was “focused on the humanitarian truce, safe passages, and protecting humanitarian workers”.

Two previous 24-hour ceasefires announced earlier in the week were also ignored.

The fighting has seen the RSF – a force tens of thousands strong, formed from members of the Janjaweed militia that led years of violence in the western Darfur region – take on the regular army, with neither side seemingly having seized the advantage.

Additional reporting by PA

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