BEIRUT — Fifty-four people are being evacuated from Sudan aboard a Royal Saudi Navy ship which departed the city of Port Sudan and is now on its way to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a spokesperson at Lebanon’s Foreign Affairs Ministry told L’Orient Today on Monday. However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a tweet Monday that 52 people had been evacuated, and a statement published by the head of the Higher Relief Committee (HRC), Mohammed Kheir, listed 57 names, noting that the evacuated were 33 Lebanese, 17 Palestinians and seven Syrians.
On Sunday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s adviser Fares Gemayel had told L’Orient Today that “the Lebanese Embassy in Sudan organized a convoy to evacuate all the Lebanese in Sudan, who are around 60 people, to Lebanon by sea, and the ambassador of Lebanon to Sudan, Dima Haddad, is currently with them, and they’re currently at sea.”
However, the ministry’s Monday statement says that the ship sailed early Monday morning.
Violence broke out in Sudan on April 15 between the army of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, Sudan’s de facto ruler since a 2021 coup overthrew the government of Omar al-Bashir, and his deputy-turned-rival, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Fighting has since continued despite a number of attempted cease-fires.
Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Bou Habib issued a tweet extending his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for the assistance “provided by the Saudi Crisis Cell to evacuate them and to welcome them [the evacuated Lebanese] as guests … in the city of Jeddah, in preparation for their return to their homeland quickly.”
“Their expected arrival to safety would not have been possible without the assistance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the tweet said.
In its statement, the HRC indicated that a plane will repatriate the evacuees from Jeddah to Beirut’s international airport “within 24 hours.”
“Another group of members of the Lebanese diaspora in Sudan has started to gather at the Rotana Hotel in Khartoum and they will be evacuated to Lebanon,” it added.
Sudan’s only maritime access is on the Red Sea, facing Saudi Arabia.
Evacuation of citizens
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF both said they were ready to help evacuate foreign nationals.
Port Sudan on the Red Sea is an 850-kilometer drive from Khartoum.
The United States and multiple European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian nations have launched emergency missions to bring their embassy staff and Sudan-based citizens to safety by road, air and sea.
US special forces swooped in with Chinook helicopters Sunday to rescue diplomats and their dependents, while Britain launched a similar rescue mission involving more than 1,000 military personnel.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said more than 1,000 of the bloc’s citizens had been evacuated during a “long and intense weekend” involving missions by France, Germany and other member nations.
With Khartoum international airport disabled after battles that left charred airplanes on its runways, many foreigners were airlifted out from smaller airstrips, many to nearby Djibouti.
Long convoys of UN cars and buses have made their way from the capital, where gunfire again echoed through the streets, to Port Sudan.
The UN has warned that up to 20,000 people — mostly women and children — have fled Sudan to seek safety in Chad, across the border from Darfur.