US and UK among countries that have evacuated diplomats, citizens from the Sudanese capital on Sunday.
The armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom have evacuated embassy staff from Sudan, while other nations are rushing to get their citizens to safety as rival military factions battle in the capital Khartoum.
The eruption of fighting eight days ago between the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group has triggered a humanitarian crisis, killed 420 people and trapped millions of Sudanese without access to basic services.
As people attempted to flee the chaos, countries began landing planes and organising convoys in Khartoum to pull out their nationals.
“UK armed forces have completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter on Sunday.
US officials said special forces using aircraft including MH-47 Chinook helicopters swept into Sudan’s battle-stricken capital on Saturday from a US base in Djibouti, spending just one hour on the ground to bring out fewer than 100 people.
“We did not take any small-arms fire on the way in and were able to get in and out without issue,” said Lieutenant General Douglas Sims, the director of operations at the military’s Joint Staff.
Chris Maier, an assistant secretary of defence, said the US military might use drone or satellite imagery to detect threats to Americans travelling on overland routes out of Sudan, or position naval assets at Port Sudan to aid Americans arriving there.
The warring sides accused each other of attacking a French convoy, both saying one French person was wounded.
France’s Foreign Ministry, which had earlier said it was evacuating diplomatic staff and citizens, did not comment.
Paris said a French plane carrying approximately 100 people including the European Union delegation in Khartoum along with other nationalities had left for Djibouti, and a second plane with a similar number aboard was due to take off shortly.
Iraq said one of its citizens was killed during clashes and Egypt said one of its diplomats had been wounded.
The efforts to extract foreign residents frustrated some Sudanese who felt the rival factions showed less concern for the safety of locals.
“Seeing the foreigners leave made me upset because I see there’s some groups that were helped by the army and RSF, meanwhile we keep getting hit,” said Alsadig Alfatih, who on Sunday managed to leave his home for the first time since the fighting erupted and said he would head to Egypt.
Germany said it had landed a military plane in Khartoum but that the operation would take some time, while Italy said it was bringing out some nationals later on Sunday. Ghana, India and Libya also said they were working to bring home their people.
Russia’s Ambassador to Sudan Andrey Chernovol told Al Jazeera that nearly all Russian citizens in Khartoum have been moved to the Russian embassy building.
However, he said it wasn’t clear if evacuations via air were possible at the moment due to fighting at the airport.
“We are looking into all possible ways for evacuating Russians,” the ambassador added.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described multiple deadly attacks on health facilities.
“Paramedics, front-line nurses and doctors are often unable to access the wounded and the injured cannot reach facilities,” he tweeted.
The WHO retweeted a post from Sudan’s Health Ministry on Sunday saying at least 420 people had been killed and 3,700 injured in the fighting so far.
Pope Francis appealed for an end to the violence during his Sunday midday prayer in Rome.
The fighting broke out in Khartoum, along with its adjoining sister cities of Omdurman and Bahri, and other parts of the country on April 15, four years after long-ruling leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled during a popular uprising.
The army and RSF jointly staged a coup in 2021, but fell out recently during negotiations over a plan to form a civilian government and integrate the RSF into the armed forces.