UK Embassy staff and UK nationals trapped in the Sudan after the outbreak of fighting in Khartoum and surrounding areas have been rescued following a joint UK Foreign Colonial Development office and Ministry of Defence operation. At the centre of the plan was the British High Commission in Cyprus and personnel and facilities at the Sovereign Base Area. The effort was coordinated with the assistance of the Cyprus authorities and demonstrated the humanitarian and logistically close ties that exist between the UK and Cyprus.
The UK deployed Royal Marines from Bravo Company of Taunton-based 40 Commando, members of the Parachute Regiment of 16 Air Assault Brigade and aircraft from the RAF’s Air Mobility Force, including C-17 Globemaster, A400M Atlas, and C-130J Hercules. So far, more than 1200 people have been involved in the planning, coordination, and execution of the evacuation.
The British High Commissioner, Irfan Siddiq, whose personal experience of Khartoum and Sudan uniquely positioned him to provide in depth knowledge of the situation on the ground was undoubtedly a key contributor to the evacuation plan.
Vice Consul Christina Smith and her consular staff and personnel of the High Commission together with their counterparts at the Cyprus Foreign Ministry worked tirelessly to provide the necessary personal and support for the evacuees as they arrived at Larnaca Airport in Cyprus. So far 2,200 individuals have been evacuated and 1,800 have left from Cyprus for the UK. The operation has continued, whilst it is still possible to use the Wadi Saeedna airfield, with the airlift being the longest and largest evacuation by any Western nation. Whilst the airlift draws to a close the High Commission staff will continue to be on hand to assist with the evacuation of UK nationals making their way to Port Sudan for evacuation by ship.
In addition to UK Nationals, the UK airlift mission has helped many other European nationals who had no other means of evacuation.
It is at these moments that we can acknowledge and pay tribute to the Staff of the British High Commission in Nicosia, the personal at the Sovereign base and our hosts the Cypriot Government, all of whom came together to ensure that the humanitarian evacuation was a success for the desperate people unwittingly caught up in the fighting.
St John Coombes
Chairman CIFSA /CRPG