By Matichon and AFP – published by CNA
THAILAND is moving to evacuate its citizens from Sudan where fighting between the army and Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries since Saturday has killed at least 270 people with foreign diplomats too attacked
Mrs. Kanchana Phatrachok, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Information, said today (Apr. 20) the authorities were deeply concerned about the well-being of Thais in the war-torn country.
Budget has been approved for the Thai embassy in Cairo which has jurisdiction over Sudan to provide relief items to around 300 Thai people there. Approximately 200 are Thai Muslim students most of whom study at the International University of Africa with the remainder either working there or are married to Sudanese citizens.
The ministry has opened communication channels for enquiries by relatives of Thais in Sudan. Emergency telephone numbers are 0963520513 / 0961657120 / 0963529015. Moreover the embassy in Cairo can be contacted at +201019601243 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This afternoon the ministry will hold a meeting to prepare to evacuate Thais affected by the fighting in Sudan with relevant agencies both within the ministry and outside participating. Among them are the Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs, the embassy in Cairo, the army and the air force.
Yesterday (Apr. 19) thousands of residents fled from Sudan’s capital Khartoum where witnesses reported bodies in the streets and embassies said more than 270 civilians had been killed in battles between the army and paramilitaries, with no end in sight.
“Life in Khartoum is impossible if this war does not stop,” said Alawya al-Tayeb, 33, on her way out of the city.
“I tried to make children not see the slain bodies on the streets,” she said, adding that her youngsters are already suffering from trauma and will need treatment.
The Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries said they would “fully commit to a complete ceasefire” from 1600 GMT for 24 hours, as did the army.
But gunfire continued in Khartoum from the appointed time and into the night, according to witnesses.
It was the second day in a row a proposed humanitarian ceasefire failed to take hold.
Foreign diplomats have been attacked, and United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said the UN had received reports of “sexual violence against aid workers”.
Governments started planning to evacuate their citizens.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced he would meet on Thursday with the heads of the African Union, the Arab League and regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, his spokesman told reporters.
The violence erupted on Saturday between forces of the two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo who commands the RSF.
It followed a bitter dispute between them over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army – a key condition for a final deal aimed at restoring Sudan’s democratic transition.
Heavy gunfire resounded and deafening explosions rattled buildings in Khartoum – a city of five million people – as thick black smoke rose from buildings around the army headquarters.
“Neither side seems to be winning at the moment, and given the intensity of the violence, things could get even worse before the two generals come to the negotiating table,” according to Clement Deshayes, a Sudan specialist at Paris’s Sorbonne University.
Thousands aren’t waiting and, according to witnesses, began leaving Khartoum by car or on foot.
They said the air was filled with the stench of dead bodies littering the streets.
Mohamed Saleh, 43, a government employee, said he was leaving behind “the terror of explosions” to stay with relatives in Madani, southeast of the capital.
“We were very worried fighters would start storming homes,” he said.
Both forces must “refrain from unlawfully evicting people from their homes”, during fighting that is “recklessly endangering the Sudanese people, diplomats and humanitarian aid workers”, the US embassy wrote in a statement signed by 14 other diplomatic missions in Sudan.
The army said the central bank of the impoverished country had been looted and “huge sums of money” stolen by the RSF, which blamed army soldiers for “attacking homes of families”.
“The toll has been high, with initial estimated civilian deaths of more than 270,” according to the embassies.
The real figure is thought to be much more, with many wounded unable to reach hospitals which are themselves being shelled, according to the official doctors’ union.
About two-thirds of Khartoum’s 59 main hospitals are “out of service”, said the union, which reported “severe shortages” in remaining facilities.
Japan said its defence ministry had begun the “necessary preparations” to evacuate around 60 of its nationals, including embassy staff.
Berlin aborted on Wednesday an evacuation attempt involving three military transport planes, which would have carried 150 citizens, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.
The US embassy in Khartoum said it started gathering citizens’ personal details but tweeted: “Due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and closure of the airport, there are no plans for (a) US government-coordinated evacuation.”
RSF said it has transported to Khartoum a group of Egyptian soldiers it reported capturing in the northern city of Meroe on Saturday.
In a statement, it vowed to hand them back to Egypt “whenever there is a chance”.
Army chief Burhan counts on support from Egypt, which according to experts unequivocally favours the military establishment.
The defence minister in Chad, which borders Sudan’s Darfur region, said around 320 Sudanese soldiers had fled over the border in fear of the RSF, which was created in 2013 by longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Military commanders toppled Bashir together in April 2019 following mass protests against his three decades of iron-fisted rule.
In October 2021 Burhan and Daglo worked together in the coup against the civilian government installed following Bashir’s ouster, derailing an internationally backed transition.
Burhan, whose career advanced under Bashir, has maintained his coup was “necessary” to bring more factions into politics.
But Daglo, who rose to prominence during the Bashir government’s scorched-earth policy against Darfuri rebels, has since called the coup a “mistake” that failed to bring about change and invigorated Bashir’s remnants.
Top: Smoke and fire rise from an apartment building in a residential complex in Khartoum, Sudan, after a shell hit it yesterday, April 19, 2023, an eyewitness said. This still image was obtained from a social media video. Image Credit: Reuters and published by Gulf News
First insert: People flee from southern Khartoum on April 18, 2023 as fighting between the army and paramilitary forces led by rival generals rages for a fifth day. Photo: AFP and published by Gulf News
Second insert: People queue for bread outside a bakery amidst a food crisis in Khartoum on April 18, 2023. Photo: AFP and published by Gulf News
Third insert: Column of smoke rises behind buildings near the airport in Khartoum. Photo: AFP and published by CNA
Front Page: Destroyed vehicles beside a road in southern Khartoum. Photo: AFP and published by CNA
Also read: More Americans see China as an enemy: Survey
US: North Korea engaged in arms-for-food deal with Russia
Scientists find water inside glass beads on the moon
China says TikTok ban reflects US insecurities
China has some doubt on ability to invade Taiwan: CIA chief