Australians still trapped in worsening Sudan crisisApril 29, 2023
Save articles for later
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
Mohamed Semra has barely slept in a fortnight, since the fighting began.
Half a world away, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, his two brothers – both Australian citizens – are trapped, amid vicious fighting between the army and paramilitary forces, sparking a descent into civil war.
Mohamed Semra’s two brothers – both Australian citizens – are stranded in Sudan amid fierce fighting. Credit: Luis Ascui
There’s little chance of the brothers leaving now. Semra’s sister-in-law is nine months’ pregnant and can’t travel. With the majority of hospitals now closed, the family can only pray her delivery is a safe one.
“I just feel like there’s a time limit right now,” Semra said.
“And the ceasefire is a representation of that. What’s gonna happen after the ceasefire? What’s going to happen to all the Australians who are still stuck there? I feel like humanitarian visas have to be a main priority [for the Australian government] to ensure that people can come back when it’s safe.”
The window for Australians trying to escape fighting in Sudan is all but closed, with Foreign Minister Penny Wong cautioning anyone still there to reach Wadi Sayyidna airfield by midday Saturday, Sudan time (8pm AEST).
“The security situation remains dangerous. Travel routes should be assessed carefully.”
At the most recent census, almost 25,000 Australians recorded their birthplace as Sudan and South Sudan.
A rally outside Victoria’s State Library on Saturday called on the Australian government to grant humanitarian visas to Sudanese nationals in Australia.
Sara Sidana’s mother and mother-in-law were in Australia visiting their grandchildren for the first time when the fighting broke out. The women are now stranded.
Sara Sidana wants the Australian government to provide humanitarian assistance to Sudanese people.Credit: Luis Ascui
“We are here today as concerned Australian citizens who lovingly contribute to the welfare of this country,” Sidana told the rally.
She called on the government to deliver humanitarian assistance to Sudanese people in the country, and in neighbouring countries.
“Sudanese people have suffered damage of catastrophic proportions; no less than the war in Ukraine,” Sidana said. “The nation of Sudan as we know it, is no longer.”
Assistant foreign affairs minister Tim Watts said Australian consular officials had been working around the clock to get Australians out of the country, with 133 people evacuated by Sunday afternoon.
With no Australian embassy in Sudan, authorities have been working with “partner countries” to secure seats on flights out of Sudan, and in convoys to the port, providing people with emergency loans, and helping them secure passage back to Australia.
On Sunday afternoon, 138 Australians were still registered as being in the country, Watts said.
“Our advice today is that the window of opportunity to leave is closing, and people who want to leave on one of the remaining flights from Wadi Sayyidna, the airfield north of Khartoum, are being asked to go to that airfield by 12pm, Sudan time, today,” he said.
“We can’t guarantee that there will be flights continuing to leave at the conclusion of this ceasefire on Monday.”
A desperate race to evacuate foreign nationals from the country was drawing to a close on Sunday, with a shaky ceasefire due to end on Monday. The New York Times reported a convoy of buses – flanked by armed drones monitoring for threats – started an 850 kilometre overland evacuation, the first organised flight for United States citizens.
Turkey reported that one of its evacuation flights had come under gunfire. The army and paramilitary forces each blamed the other for the gunfire. No one was injured.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in National
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article