A Sudanese family of seven, including three children and an elderly woman, are among thousands stranded at the Egypt-Sudan border due to the exorbitant fee charged by bus drivers to travel across. Bus travel is the only means to cross the border, with crossing on foot being banned.
Fadi Atabani, a British national who fled the fighting in Khartoum with his family two days ago, said that bus drivers are taking advantage of the desperate situation and have raised the price of a bus from $3,000 to $40,000 to travel only 30 km. Mr Atabani, who left his home with just a few items of clothing, appealed to the British government to provide assistance, citing the lack of accommodation and the risk to his children’s medical health in the middle of the desert.
The Sudanese army and paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces have been in conflict since 15 April, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. A three-day ceasefire was agreed upon on Monday and renewed on Thursday, but clashes have continued in some areas. The fighting is devastating the capital and its surrounds, leaving people without food, water and fuel.
The family’s relatives in the UK have made repeated efforts to get help from the Foreign Office, but officials have informed them that British citizens can only be evacuated from the Wadi Seidna airfield near Khartoum, which is a perilous two-day bus journey away. Mr Atabani expressed his concerns about the safety of his family on such a journey and criticised the Foreign Office for not arranging any help with travel to the airfield.
On Thursday, a Turkish evacuation plane was fired at while attempting to land at Wadi Seidna. The Foreign Office stated that it has been working intensively to evacuate British nationals from Sudan, with 897 people flown out of Wadi Seidna airfield by Thursday evening. However, a British Sudanese doctor is waiting to be evacuated from the eastern Red Sea city of Port Sudan along with dozens of other British Sudanese citizens, but there have been no evacuation flights from there until now.