PM Modi leads meeting on evacuating stranded Indians in violence-hit Sudan

Instructs for contingency evacuation plans
PM Modi leads meeting on evacuating stranded Indians in violence-hit Sudan
GK Photo

New Delhi, Apr 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday chaired a high-level meeting that was held virtually to review the security situation in Sudan.

The attendees included the External Affairs Minister, National Security Advisor, Indian Ambassador to Sudan, Air Force and Navy chiefs, top foreign and defence ministries officials, and senior diplomats.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Modi evaluated the latest developments in Sudan, particularly emphasizing the safety of over 3,000 Indian citizens residing in various towns and cities throughout the country. The Prime Minister instructed all relevant officials to remain vigilant and closely monitor the situation, continuously assessing the safety of Indian nationals in Sudan. He directed contingency evacuation plans, considering the rapidly changing security landscape and the feasibility of various options.

In addition, the Prime Minister urged Indian officials to provide all possible assistance to Indian citizens in Sudan and maintain close communication with neighbouring countries in the region and those with a significant number of citizens in Sudan.

Approximately 3000 Indians are currently stranded in scattered towns throughout Sudan, with the Indian embassy remaining in touch with them and their families, advising them not to venture out due to the unsafe environment. Sadly, one Indian has already lost his life in the crossfire. Additionally, 30 individuals from Karnataka State are trapped in El-Fasher without access to food or water facilities.

Domestic pressure is mounting from loved ones of the stranded Indians, particularly from the Kerala and Karnataka governments, urging the Prime Minister to evacuate them.

Earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, S Jaishankar, discussed the situation in Sudan with the United Nations, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Jaishankar met with the Secretary General of the United Nations to discuss the current situation and also spoke to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt regarding the Sudanese crisis.

In response to the crisis, the Ministry of External Affairs has established a Control Room to offer information and assistance to those affected. The hotline numbers include 1800 11 8797 (toll-free), +91-11-23012113, +91-11-23014104, +91-11-23017905, and a mobile number at +91 9968291988. Alternatively, individuals can also reach out via email at

The Indian embassy in Sudan issued several travel advisories requesting all fellow Indians to continue to stay where they were and not venture outside, as the fighting had not subsided. "Please stay calm and peaceful. Stay away from open spaces like balconies and terraces. Keep essential medicines, water, money, passport, OCI card, and food ready to ensure easy mobility when feasible."

Around 430 were killed and about 4,000 people injured as the armed warring groups in Sudan entered the seventh day with no end to lawlessness and violence. Residents are suffering from a shortage of water, milk for babies, and essential food items and some places have no electricity.

Series of failed ceasefires

After massive diplomatic pressure from world leaders and United Nations, Sudan's paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced a ceasefire on Friday morning amid continuing heavy fighting with the army in the capital Khartoum,

Al Jazeera and local media reported that the RSF said in a statement that it would observe a 72-hour ceasefire, which would come into effect from Friday morning, marking the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr. "The armistice coincides with the blessed Eid-ul-Fitr and open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens and allow them to greet their families," the statement said.

There was no word from the rival army on whether it would observe a ceasefire. There have been a series of failed ceasefires since the violent power struggle broke out last weekend between the army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF, which General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo leads. The two men were previously allied as leaders of Sudan's ruling military government.

Khartoum was rocked by heavy shelling in the early hours of Friday, with the RSF accusing the army of staging a "sweeping attack" on the capital. Since Last Saturday, Sudan's urban centres remain engulfed in a deadly battle, and civilians have struggled to find safe havens amidst the chaos and the absence of the rule of law.

Sudanese local newspaper The Sudan Tribune reported that "The head of the Transitional Sovereign Council and Sudanese army Commander-in-Chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, stated that he would not agree to a truce with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Commander if their forces are present in residential areas and interfering with the functioning of public facilities in Khartoum.

"If we want there to be a genuine truce, let us open the corridors and leave civilians free movement. How do you talk about a truce when you set up checkpoints, search civilians, and occupy public service buildings and state facilities? You can't talk about a truce under these circumstances; it's colonialism, not a truce," he questioned.

However, he said dialogue with the RSF is attainable only if its forces withdraw from Khartoum. He emphasised that the Army intends to avoid combat in residential neighbourhoods.

The conflict has witnessed a barrage of air strikes, shelling, and small-arms fire. Furthermore, unbridled armed fighters have harassed and physically assaulted an EU ambassador and a UN staffer at their residence. In addition, a US diplomatic convoy came under fire.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had asked the fighting groups to observe a three-day ceasefire over Eid and allow civilians to reach safety. Thousands of civilians have left Sudan, crossing borders into Chad and Ethiopia to flee fighting in the western region of Darfur.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, said he is horrified by the deaths of humanitarian workers, including three World Food Programme (WFP) colleagues. He is also disturbed by reports of large-scale looting of aid and damage to humanitarian facilities.

Nearly one-third of the Sudan population, or almost 16 million people, needed humanitarian aid at the start of this year, with some 3.7 million people displaced within Sudan. There are around 4,000 UN staff on the ground, including 800 international teams in Sudan. In addition, dozens of international NGOs are working on the ground.

This sudden outbreak of violence between Sudan's two top generals, each commanding tens of thousands of heavily armed fighters, has left millions of people trapped in their homes or wherever they could find shelter, with essential supplies running low and several hospitals being forced to close their doors.

Several embassies, including the US, are waiting in the wings to evacuate their citizens and embassy staff. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Sudan live in fear, with many unable to access essential items such as baby food and clean drinking water. Additionally, several hundred Indians cannot leave their homes or offices due to the ongoing violence in the region.

Eyewitnesses and social media accounts from individuals say that people cannot leave their homes until some ceasefire is declared. From the window of their residences, they have seen scattered dead bodies of fighters on the streets, indicating that the death toll may be significantly higher.

No official information is available regarding the number of civilians or combatants killed in the conflict. The hospitals and doctors' syndicate, the only available sources, have reported approximately 300 civilian deaths who keep on receiving injured and bullet injuries amid a shortage of medicines. Several hospitals are short of drugs, and there is no electricity or drinking water in several areas.

The UN Secretary-General also spoke with the two Sudanese leaders and has sought support from the African Union, the Arab League, and leaders across the region to help diffuse the situation in Sudan.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealed to the warring military leaders separately to join a ceasefire at least until Sunday - warning of the risk to civilians and humanitarian and diplomatic workers.

A Sudanese army statement said Gen Burhan had received calls from the Turkish, South Sudanese and Ethiopian leaders, Mr Blinken and the Saudi and Qatari foreign ministers.

Among those calling the army chief were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the Egyptian intelligence chief, according to an army statement.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit called on the warring parties in Sudan to stop the fighting during the days of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, to be observed during the weekend, to enable civilians to respond to urgent humanitarian cases.

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