Saudi Arabia has received several rounds of evacuees by air and sea since fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15, but the ship that docked in Jeddah early Wednesday was the largest yet – Copyright AFP Amer HILABI
A ship carrying 1,687 civilians from more than 50 countries fleeing violence in Sudan docked in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said, the Gulf kingdom’s biggest evacuation effort yet.
Saudi Arabia has received several rounds of evacuees by air and sea since fighting broke out in Africa’s third-largest country on April 15, part of what analysts describe as an effort to position itself as a major player in the response to regional crises.
The group that arrived in the coastal city of Jeddah from Port Sudan on Wednesday was “transported by one of the kingdom’s ships, and the kingdom was ready to meet all the basic needs of the foreign nationals in preparation for their departure,” said the ministry.
It included 13 Saudis, while the rest came from countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, the ministry added.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said 560 citizens had been successfully evacuated from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, though it was unclear if they were all on the same boat that arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday morning.
Jakarta is moving another group of more than 300 Indonesians by land from Khartoum to Port Sudan in preparation for a second round of evacuations, spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told AFP.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said 13 of its citizens had arrived in Jeddah from Sudan and another 12 were waiting to be evacuated in Port Sudan.
The Al-Ekhbariya channel, affiliated with the Saudi state, broadcast footage of the passengers waving the green Saudi flag adorned with a sword as they disembarked and Saudi security forces removed babies from the ship.
Fighting in Sudan pits forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against those backing his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
At least 459 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured, according to figures Tuesday from UN agencies.
A US-brokered three-day ceasefire between the warring generals brought some calm to the capital, but witnesses reported fresh airstrikes and paramilitaries claimed to have seized a major oil refinery and power plant.
Evacuees began arriving in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with boats carrying 150 people, including diplomats and foreign officials.
On Monday, a C-130 Hercules military plane carried dozens of South Korean civilians to Jeddah’s King Abdullah airbase, and a ship carried nearly 200 people from 14 countries across the Red Sea from Port Sudan.
In all, 2,148 people have been evacuated to the kingdom from Sudan so far, including more than 2,000 foreigners, the ministry said.