Sudan: First evacuation flight of UK nationals lands in Cyprus

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Desk Report: The UK’s first evacuation flight carrying British nationals from Sudan has landed in Cyprus.

More flights are expected tonight and on Wednesday, as the military attempts to get hundreds out of the war-torn country during a 72-hour ceasefire.

The BBC has been told that 39 people were on board the first plane, with 260 in total expected to arrive tonight.

Trapped UK nationals have been told to make their own way to an airport near Khartoum, without an escort.

Families with children, the elderly and people with medical conditions are being prioritised on RAF planes leaving from an airfield near the capital Khartoum, the government said.

Among the people on board the first evacuation flight were babies and people over 70.

People landing at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus will later be transported back to the UK.

UK ministers have come under increasing pressure to help its citizens flee the fierce fighting, but it is unclear how many will be reached.

About 4,000 UK nationals are thought to be in Sudan and 2,000 of them have already requested help, Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said on Monday, but the number who arrive at the evacuation point is expected to be lower.

Hundreds of people have been airlifted from Sudan by other countries, including more than 1,000 people by European Union nations.

Germany was due to end its evacuation on Tuesday evening after airlifting around 500 people on six flights.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace told Channel 4 news “we can take, really, who turns up at the moment” – adding “there is some risk that some of the planes are not full”.

A UK source told the BBC on Tuesday afternoon that communications with nationals in Sudan were “working okay” and people were managing to get to the airbase.

Only British passport holders and their immediate family with existing UK entry clearance are eligible, the government has said.

The Foreign Office initially said people should not travel to the evacuation site until told to do so – but updated its advice on Tuesday afternoon urging people to make their own way to the Wadi Saeedna airfield to the north of Khartoum “as soon as possible”.

The advice published online warned evacuees that “travel within Sudan is conducted at your own risk and plans may change depending on the security situation”.

Mr Wallace told a Commons committee earlier on Tuesday that 120 British troops were involved.

He also confirmed that Royal Marines were continuing to prepare an alternative route out of Sudan via a port on the east coast, as well as making contingencies for any humanitarian response.

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