Woman depressed as family flee war-torn Sudan

time:2023-06-04 14:31:55 source:Al Jazeera

A woman has said her family in Sudan can "smell the dead bodies in the street" as they attempt to flee the country.

The UK government has begun evacuating nationals following intense fighting between rival military forces.

Nesrin El-Haj, from Cardiff, said she has been "very depressed" since losing contact with her mother and sisters.

"The war is so massive. The sounds of heavy weapons, explosions and bullets have terrified them," she said.

Nesrin has not heard from any family or friends in Sudan for two days and is waiting for them to confirm that they are safe.

"They have no electricity, there's a lack of food, lack of basic services, water and medical treatment," she told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

"It's so hard for me because I've lost connection with them and I've felt very depressed, very stressed."

A student in Swansea is also fearful for his family's safety as his mother and grandfather attempt to flee the war-torn country.

Salah El-Khalifa said his mother, a British national, is trying to get to Saudi Arabia with her 96-year-old father, who is unwell.

He said he has had limited contact with her as she is worried her phone signal may be tracked and reveal her location.

Salah said his mother and grandfather are travelling in a group of eight, including his aunt and two cousins.

However, contact with them has been made even more difficult as data and wi-fi signal is very limited in the country in northeast Africa.

He added that help from the Foreign Office has been "very limited and very, very minimal".

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the approach to getting UK citizens out of Sudan, describing the situation as "complicated".

Salah said the first few days he and his sister contacted the Foreign Office, their advice was for his family in Sudan to "stay indoors and to not move".

However, he believes officials did not fully understand the situation, adding: "It wasn't a viable option as there was no guarantee of their safety.

"Since the planes have started and plans have been made by governments to evacuate nationals, contact between me and the Foreign Office has improved but it's still very minimal."

On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the UK government's approach to getting British citizens out of Sudan, following criticism that the Foreign Office was failing those stuck in Khartoum.

"The security situation on the ground in Sudan is complicated, it is volatile and we wanted to make sure we could put in place processes that are going to work for people, that are going to be safe and effective." Mr Sunak said.

Mr Sunak said more than 1,000 UK citizens in Sudan had been contacted about evacuation plans, and "many more" flights will leave on Wednesday.

A Welsh government spokesman said: "We are monitoring the situation closely and we are in contact with the Foreign Office as they repatriate people back to the United Kingdom."

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