Over 300 Ugandans have marked Idd el Fitri hidden in hotel basements and barricaded homes, some living in darkness and without water. This follows the disruption of the supply of utilities in the midst of a fierce firelight between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), now designated rebels by the government of the Republic of Sudan.
A proposal yesterday, for a 3-day truce, which had been considered by the warring parties at the end of Ramadhan, to enable the celebration of one of the holiest days on the Islamic calendar, appears to have been scuttled by continued skirmishes mainly in the city of Khartoum.
Proposals for a ceasefire were thrice previously undermined by heavy fighting and shelling, in which some 600 people were killed, and another 2600 are nursing injuries, since fighting broke out 6 days ago, according to sources, Sudanese health authorities and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The dead include 1 American.
“We are grateful to H.E. the President for his high-level efforts that we believe shall culminate in the safe evacuation of Ugandans from Sudan.
He has shown considerable care for the welfare and safety of Ugandans.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, have shown concern, seeking daily updates and making assurances about the need to ensure the safety of Ugandan citizens.
“The entire staff at the Embassy deserve deep commendations for their efforts and commitment that has given hope to the 300 Ugandans caught up in the war,” said Dr. Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu, Uganda’s Ambassador to Khartoum, Republic of Sudan.
Without disclosing details, Dr. Ssemuddu said President Museveni has shown exceptional care for Ugandans in Sudan and he is confident efforts by concerned government institutions have been well aligned to deliver the trapped Ugandans to safety.
In his Idd el fitri message, Ambassador Ssemuddu has appealed to all Ugandans trapped in various locations in Sudan, to persevere through the hardships and not risk their lives by coming out in the open, until they are told to do so.
He expressed optimism that a window of opportunity could present itself in the coming days that could enable the safe evacuation of all Ugandans.
Amongst those trapped, include: 19 pilgrims who were in transit to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, through Khartoum. Others include patients who had traveled to undergo heart surgery, students, some members of the business community, and Embassy staff.
The Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been engrossed in a flurry of activities, which have involved coordination amongst institutions and individuals, contact tracing and generally establishing the whereabouts of Ugandans.
Four countries in the East African region, including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are understood to have made plans to undertake the joint evacuation of their citizens.
Details of the plan have not been made public. However, it could involve a joint military plan and possibly the use of specialized military transport aircraft. Germany and Japan had planned to evacuate their citizens trapped in Khartoum but dropped their plans due to the intensity of the fighting.
Khartoum airport is located in the heart of the city, nestled amidst high-rise buildings and streets, a situation that has raised its risk profile and made difficult plans to land aircraft at the only international airport in the country. One of the fiercest battles between SAF and RSF occurred at the airport on the first day of fighting.
A number of aircraft were hit by shells and were left smoldering on the apron, and taxiway, making the usability of the airport doubtful. However, the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority is yet to make a pronouncement on the suitability of the at present.