Government Warns Of "Rapidly Deteriorating" Situation In Sudan As Evacuation Pressure Builds
427 people have been killed in the conflict in Sudan so far (Alamy)
Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell has said the situation in Sudan is "extremely grave" in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, as pressure builds on government to evacuate British nationals from the region.
Fighting broke out last week in Sudan’s capital Khartoum between the forces of two rival Sudanese generals, with 427 people, including five aid workers, killed so far and more than 3,700 people injured.
In a statement to the Commons, Mitchell said the UK government considers it a "rapidly deteriorating security situation" and that "ending the violence is the single most important action we can take to guarantee the safety of British nationals and everyone in Sudan".
"Whilst we find a safe passage from Sudan, movement around the capital remains extremely dangerous and no evacuation option comes without grave risk to life," the minister said.
"Khartoum airport is out of action, energy supplies are disrupted, food and water are becoming increasingly scarce, internet and telephone networks are becoming difficult to access."
He confirmed that around 2,000 Britons are registered in Sudan and called on any other British nationals to register as soon as they can.
The Foreign Office is yet to confirm a plan on how to evacuate all British nationals stranded in the African country, but managed to extract around 30 diplomats and their families over the weekend, with the FCDO claiming they were at immediate direct risk of attack.
The government has been stepping up its response to the crisis, with 200 foreign office officials working on plans. No 10 is holding a COBRA meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss how to extract British nationals from the intensifying violence in Sudan.
The FCDO has called on both sides of the conflict for a ceasefire and has urged British nationals to stay indoors.
"We are now asking British nationals to exercise their own judgement about their circumstances, including whether to relocate, but they do so at their own risk," Mitchell added.
Shadow Minister for Development Lyn Brown said she joined Mitchell in "paying tribute" to the armed forces involved in efforts to evacuate British diplomats.
"Our relief at the success of this mission does not alleviate our concern for the several thousand British nationals still trapped in Sudan amid growing violence," she said in response to Mitchell's statement in the Commons.
"What they need to hear is a clear plan on how the government will support those still in danger, how they will communicate with them and when.
"While we maintain the unified international pressure for a permanent ceasefire, we are clear the British government should be evacuating as many British nationals as possible, as quickly as possible."
She said the UK's partner countries had already evacuated several hundred of their own nationals from Sudan.
Earlier on Monday, Mitchell told BBC Radio 4 that the government was “exploring every single possible way of getting them out”.
“I simply cannot give any assurances and [it] wouldn’t be responsible to do so,” he said.
“The situation is absolutely desperate and a ceasefire is required. The only advice that Britain can give to people is to stay indoors because that is the safe option.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We are urgently exploring all routes for British nationals to leave Sudan should they want to.”
They added officials have been working “around the clock” on a “24/7 response”.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe