The government is “severely limited” in helping UK British nationals stuck in Sudan, the foreign secretary has said.
British diplomats and their families have already been evacuated from the country, but other UK passport holders are struggling to leave.
So, what’s behind the fighting and how many Brits are still trapped?
What is causing the conflict in Sudan?
The fighting is between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The leaders of the two factions – General Burhan of the army and the RSF’s General Dagalo – had been working together to prop up the army’s control of the country after a military coup in 2021.
General Burhan had promised a transition to civilian rule this year, but with the April deadline approaching, neither he nor his RSF counterpart wanted to relinquish control.
Now, they’ve turned on each other, with each man hoping to take over as leader.
The dispute turned violent on 15 April when fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and in the Darfur region.
It’s since spread across the country, killing 420 people so far, according to the World Health Organization.
Key infrastructure is also damaged. There have been widespread reports of internet and electricity outages, with Khartoum residents reportedly left without water for 48 hours.
How many British nationals are still in Sudan?
British diplomats and their families were airlifted out of Sudan on 23 April.
It’s not clear exactly how many other UK citizens are left behind, but the estimates we’ve seen put the figure in the thousands.
Alicia Kearns MP, who is chair of the foreign affairs select committee and a former Foreign Office official, told the BBC that as many as 4,000 British citizens who want to leave could still be trapped.
Junior foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell said 2,000 Britons in Sudan had registered with the Foreign Office.
What is the UK government doing to help British nationals in Sudan?
Mr Mitchell told Sky News this morning that the UK government will “do everything we possibly can” to support British nationals in the country.
But some UK passport holders have complained that the government hasn’t provided enough help.
One man called William told the BBC: “We’ve had absolutely nothing but nonsense from the government and not even nonsense – we’ve had nothing”. He said he was trying to leave the country using transport provided by his Sudanese employer. Mr Mitchell told the BBC this morning that messages will have been sent but might not have arrived due to signal problems.
Critics of the UK government point to other countries – like Japan and Ireland – that have managed to evacuate some or all of their civilian passport-holders.
Though it’s worth saying that these nations had fewer citizens in Sudan than the UK to begin with (60 and 150, respectively, according to reports).
And Mr Mitchell highlighted the potential risks of trying to extract civilians from the fighting, giving Turkey as an example. The Turkish authorities had encouraged its citizens to travel to one of three meeting points – but two of these were shot at, he said.
Meanwhile, Germany had to cancel its first rescue attempt due to fighting.
What is the government telling British nationals in Sudan to do?
Mr Mitchell told the BBC this morning that “the only position that the British government can urge people to take is to stay indoors because it is too dangerous to go outside”.
“However,” he added, “many of the Brits there are very inventive and creative and know the situation on the ground. If, at their own risk, they determine that there is a way to leave their homes, then of course they will take it, but they do so at their own risk.”