Desperate British families trapped in Sudan rush to board the last evacuation plane from the capital Khartoum before a fragile 72-hour ceasefire expires tonight.
Thousands of terrified Britons – many of whom risked their lives to reach an airbase near Khartoum – are now being warned they may not be able to get to safety after the fragile ceasefire expires at midnight.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told desperate Britons it could be ‘impossible’ to evacuate them with flights after tonight – meaning thousands are left to fend for themselves in the war-torn country that is a tinderbox for violence.
They cleverly told them ‘if you plan to move, move now’, illustrating how desperate the situation has become.
Now Britons are desperately racing across Sudan to reach Wadi Saeedna Air Base in time for the final flight in just over 12 hours.
So far more than 530 people – many of them young children – have been evacuated to Cyprus and now the UK on six flights as the government rushes to evacuate the thousands of Britons before the opportunity closes in just over 12 hours.
Hundreds of British families have somehow survived the nightmarish journey through the violent streets of Khartoum to reach the British troops waiting for them at Khartoum’s Wadi Saeedna air base – all without a British military escort.
Britons have described seeing thieves and murderers roaming the streets of the capital, while the corpses of civilians killed in fighting between warring factions lay on the ground in scenes that have been compared to the horror film The Purge.
But even after this terrifying and grueling journey, they are now being told they may not even be put on a flight if the ceasefire breaks.
The RAF evacuates British citizens on flights from Sudan to Larnaka airport, Cyprus as conflict in Sudan escalates
A British national takes off from an RAF aircraft on Tuesday, after being evacuated from Sudan, at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus
British citizens, many of whom are children, are photographed safely on board an RAF aircraft after being evacuated from Sudan
Fighters ride in the back of an engineering vehicle (pickup with a gun turret) in the East Nile district of Khartoum on April 23
Families now wait in fear for what will be a nerve-wracking 16 hours – desperately hoping they can flee to the safety of their homes in Britain.
There are talks that the British left behind could flee the country by boarding HMS Lancaster at Port Sudan.
But this would mean that the exhausted British would again have to risk their lives – without a military escort – and make the perilous 500-mile journey south to port.
Indeed, once the ceasefire expires tonight, terrified Britons will have to navigate deadly streets where the warring military factions will fight fiercely for control.
The government, which has been criticized for failing to evacuate British citizens sooner after focusing on bailing out diplomats, said 536 people have been evacuated so far – a fraction of the 3,500 Britons believed to still be trapped in the country.
Hundreds of Britons are racing frantically through Sudan to reach the airstrip at Khartoum in time – but it is feared that many will not be able to reach the evacuation flights before they all leave, due to the danger in the capital.
Britons have told how taxi drivers have said no amount of money would convince them to drive to the capital, while the lack of petrol has also hampered attempts to escape.
And even arriving in time for the final evacuation flights, some people – including NHS doctors – are being turned away from the Sudanese airstrip by British government officials.
British evacuees disembark from a charter flight at Stansted Airport in Essex after flying from Cyprus on Wednesday
Noor, eight, hugs her mother Susan after she arrives at Stansted airport
Safe in Britain, but as the first evacuated Britons breathed a sigh of relief as they landed at London Stansted Airport in Essex, many told reporters of their mixed feelings about the UK government’s response
The first Britons to be evacuated from Sudan have now landed in the UK after a nightmarish journey to reach an air base in the capital Khartoum
Yesterday, the first Britons evacuated from Sudan landed at London Stansted airport – and could breathe a sigh of relief after a grueling and terrifying week of violence.
Parents held on tightly to their children as they drove onto the tarmac – 24 hours after risking their lives to reach the British troops waiting for them at Wadi Saeedna airbase in Khartoum.
The evacuees burst into tears as they were reunited with their loved ones who had been anxiously awaiting news of their safe return. A mother ran to her eight-year-old daughter and clung to her in an emotional embrace.
Children, many of whom will have heard gunfights in the streets in front of their relatives’ homes, clung to their parents as they were helped aboard the British plane after being evacuated from Sudan yesterday.
Many who boarded the evacuation flights have been forced to leave relatives behind, with a British man able to flee with his pregnant wife and their six-year-old son but leaving his elderly mother behind.
‘British soldiers checked all our papers. I brought my mum but she doesn’t have a UK passport. I tried to persuade the British soldiers to let her on the plane too, but they wouldn’t let her,” Wathig Ali told the BBC.
“It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to my mother.”
Foreigners fleeing Khartoum described bodies lying in the streets, buildings burning, residential areas turned into battlefields, and youths roaming around with large knives.
Airstrikes and artillery have killed at least 459 people, injured more than 4,000, destroyed hospitals and limited food distribution in the vast country where a third of its 46 million people already depended on humanitarian aid.