‘It’s terrible’: Inside the new UK operations base in Sudan, civilians wait for their chance of escape


The Coral Hotel – an architectural replica of the British colonial Governor’s House across the road in Port Sudan – is the new office for British consular support.

The UK operations base relocated there from Wadi Saeedna in Omdurman – roughly 14 miles (22km) from Khartoum and a heartland of fighting – after a Turkish military plane came under fire as it was about to land.

A senior Sudanese military commander told Sky News the plane was not following the agreed flight route and was considered a potential threat.

Before the incident, British citizens travelling to Wadi Saeedna military base condemned the lack of protection en route.

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Inside the UK’s Sudan evacuation centre

British diplomats were evacuated from Sudan a week into the conflict in a special military operation and the UK government was criticised for not evacuating its citizens.

Civilian evacuation missions were announced on 25 April.

The Foreign Office confirmed it had ended its rescue efforts on Saturday night, saying: “The last evacuation flight departed Wadi Saeedna airfield at 2200 Sudan time (9pm BST) on 29 April.”

People hoping to escape the fighting gather in the Coral Hotel's waiting area
People hoping to escape the fighting gather in the Coral Hotel’s waiting area
A map showing the location of Port Sudan

Here in the Coral Hotel, there are now few British citizens to evacuate. Many had already made their way – via Egypt and other rescue missions – by the time the UK began its evacuation effort.

Others who came to Port Sudan left with the first three Saudi Arabian naval ships that transported them 10 hours across the Red Sea to Jeddah.

More on Sudan:
UK ends evacuation mission as former Sudan PM warns of ‘nightmare for the world’

‘Death will come to you anywhere’ – mayhem at Port Sudan
Traumatised Sudan evacuees describe ‘horrendous’ scenes
Explainer: What’s behind the Sudan fighting?

People waiting to be evacuated from Port Sudan
People waiting to be evacuated from Port Sudan

Instead, the rooms are full of Sudanese-Americans and Sudanese nationals with UK and EU entry permits.

Anyone else is scattered in hotels and accommodation across town and hundreds are sleeping on the hard ground of the port.

“I wish [my family] had these documents so they can leave because it’s terrible there,” says Maowia, a Sudanese-American citizen.

“I feel sorry for them because the situation is not good.”

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