UK ambassador to Sudan says it's 'too dangerous' to return – but promises huge effort to evacuate stranded Brits | The Sun
BRITAIN'S ambassador to Sudan wasn't in the country when the conflict erupted, but promises every effort is being made to rescue stranded Brits.
Ambassador Giles Lever had gone on annual leave and was in the UK before Sudan became an open warzone in a bloody struggle for power.
For 10 days, rivalling Sudan militaries have been violently battling for power and the capital of Khartoum has borne the brunt of the destruction.
At least 427 have been left dead – half of which are civilians – and 3,500 injured as Sudan teeters on the "edge of abyss" according to the UN chief.
Mr Lever confirmed on Monday that he was on annual leave at the time fighting broke out, MailOnline reported.
Outside his south London home he said: "I came back here for a scheduled holiday at Easter and have been unable to return.
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"I had been working solidly on the problems in Sudan for three months before I left."
The decision to extract 30 diplomats and their families using British Special Forces over the weekend caused controversy as more than 4,000 British citizens were left behind in an extraction mission and remain trapped.
They claim they feel "abandoned" by the UK government after other nations managed to rescue their citizens, while they have been left cowering in their homes under bombardment.
Mr Lever responded to the criticism, saying: "But it is incorrect to say that the embassy had been abandoned. There was a very senior diplomat, my deputy, in charge while I took leave.
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"It is a war zone there and no way I can return because there isn’t a means to get into Khartoum with the airport being decommissioned."
He added: "There are people working around the clock to get British people out and to safety."
The Times reported that officials had believed violence was unlikely during the lead up to Eid, the Muslim festival which marks the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan.
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell confirmed the ambassador was not in Sudan, following questioning from MPs.
He also told MPs that 200 civil servants were working shifts "night and day" in the crisis centre set up in response to the conflict.
Trying to calm anxious ministers, he claimed: “We most certainly have learned lessons from Afghanistan and the position in Sudan is completely different.”
The Government's emergency committee Cobra has meanwhile "met six times so far" since violence began and five of these meetings had been chaired by Rishi Sunak, he claimed.
Mitchell also told Radio 4 today that he "cannot give any assurances" on getting out the remaining Brits out the war-torn country.
The news comes after a crack SAS team reached Sudan last night as fears grew for the remaining 4,000 Brits still left in the country.
A flight tracking website showed a C-17 transport aircraft heading to Port Sudan on the Red Sea — 500 miles from tinderbox capital Khartoum.
It is believed that two Royal Navy ships — RFA Cardigan Bay in Bahrain, and HMS Lancaster in India, will still help with the rescue mission.
However, this could involve British nationals making a deadly three-day drive through the war-ravaged Sudan to make it to Port Sudan where the Royal Navy ships are understood to be travelling to.
On Monday, Sudanese generals agreed to a three-day ceasefire.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: "Following intense negotiation over the past 48 hours, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have agreed to implement a nationwide ceasefire starting at midnight on April 24, to last for 72 hours."
Blinken's statement came two hours before the truce was to take effect.
Meanwhile, a Brit filmed gunfire inching ever closer to his home as he hid in his home waiting to be rescued today.
Amar, who lives in Edinburgh and was there visiting relatives, told the BBC the situation is "very scary".
Other desperate British citizens have allegedly had to kill their own pets to save them from starving after food and water were cut.
There are also 71 stranded NHS doctors who are said to have "lost all hope" of being evacuated having urged the UK government to act quickly.
The NHS staff had created a WhatsApp group to stay in touch, however as internet communications went down – the group has reportedly gone silent.
Dr Taha, 35, a junior doctor in South Yorkshire told the Mirror that themedical professionals have been forced to try to escape themselves after the government's inaction.
“It’s heartbreaking because we can see that they have managed to evacuate the diplomats and you can see other countries have managed to evacuate their citizens," she said.
“So far, the British government has been very slow.
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“The problem now is communication is becoming more and more difficult. Internet services are poor and international calls are not going through."
She pleaded: “Act quickly please. Help evacuate these UK citizens and residents and get them home safely.”
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