Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Evacuees describe their perilous journey from Sudan in "Difficult Days"

Civilians recounted their harrowing journey from violence-plagued Sudan across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia while clutching overstuffed suitcases and weeping over memories of air strikes and urban combat.

Wheelchair-bound older ladies and children sleeping in their folks' arms were among almost 200 individuals from in excess of 20 nations who landed from a maritime frigate in the beach front city of Jeddah on Monday night subsequent to trying - - and depleting - - excursions to somewhere safe.

"We voyaged quite far from Khartoum to Port Sudan. Suhaib Aicha, a Lebanese national who has operated a plastics factory in Sudan for more than a decade, stated, "It took us about 10 or 11 hours."

"It took us an additional 20 hours on this boat from Port Sudan to Jeddah," he told AFP as his young little girl cried on his shoulders.

Another Lebanese passenger, who did not wish to be identified, stated, "There were many difficult moments, all of which involved fear, tension, and anxiety." She did not provide her name.

We were not drinking, sleeping, or eating. We endured numerous difficult days."

On April 15, forces associated with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), engaged in combat in Sudan.

According to UN agencies, at least 427 people have died and more than 3,700 have been wounded. Many of them are currently struggling with severe shortages of fuel, water, food, and medicine, as well as power and internet outages.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced late Monday that Daglo and Burhan had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire.

Despite this, those who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday expressed gratitude for being away from a nation where the doctors' union claims that "morgues are full" and "corpses litter the streets."

Saudi Arabia welcomed 150 individuals, including foreign diplomats and officials, to Jeddah on Saturday, announcing the first successful civilian evacuation from Sudan.

A C-130 Hercules military plane carried dozens of South Korean civilians earlier on Monday, including a young child and a nun wearing a white-and-blue habit.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, 356 people have been evacuated from Sudan so far, including 101 Saudis and 255 foreigners from more than 20 nations.

The effort has been extensively covered by Saudi state media, and countries whose citizens have benefited have expressed their gratitude.

The state-affiliated Al-Ekhbariya channel broadcast images of passengers smiling and waving as the naval frigate approached Jeddah's port on Monday night. Other viewers recorded the event on their smartphones.

"This is the strongest passport in the world," a Saudi man declared as he waved his green passport and the green, sword-emblazoned Saudi flag into the camera.

Columnist Abdo Khal wrote in the private newspaper Okaz that Saudi Arabia's "international value" was highlighted by the relatively quick organization of evacuation planes and boats.

"Most certainly this shows an energy by the Saudi realm to situate itself as a focal entertainer in territorial emergency circumstances and to exploit the influence it has over the two sides of this contention," said Umar Karim, a specialist on Saudi governmental issues at the College of Birmingham.

However, due to their close ties to the two generals whose troops are fighting outside of Khartoum, Saudi officials are being pressured to do more than just help with evacuations.

According to Alan Boswell of the International Crisis Group, "Saudi Arabia is a critical player in the ceasefire diplomacy in Sudan," he stated to AFP.

"In order to persuade Sudan's military to give talks a chance, African and Western governments are looking to Riyadh for assistance."

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