The RAAF has evacuated 36 Australians and their families from war-torn Sudan overnight.
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The flight on board an Air Force C-130J Hercules, ASY563 (similar aircraft pictured), landed in Cyprus at around 4:20am AEST having departed Port Sudan at around 12:45am AEST, amid what Foreign Minister Penny Wong told ABC’s AM was a “difficult security situation” in Sudan.
“Unfortunately, we still have Australians on the ground, and we’ll continue to engage through our consular team with the Australians who are on the ground, and we urge people to make sure that they are registered,” she said.
“We have been doing all we can to assist Australians with the support of our partners, bearing in mind we don’t have people on the ground in an embassy in Sudan.”
Fighting in Sudan has entered its third week, with 190 Australians having fled the country so far, largely through the aid of flights provided by partner countries.
“Obviously our focus in the early days, given we’re a long way away, was to work with partner countries, and we’re really grateful to the many nations, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, amongst others, and also the support of Egypt,” said Senator Wong.
“But we did have [an RAAF plane] that was sent to Cyprus and given that the United Kingdom was not flying overnight, we offered that plane to contribute to the international efforts, and we’re pleased that they’ve landed safely.”
While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the RAAF are not ruling out further evacuation flights, the foreign minister cautioned that the “volatile” security situation in Sudan is worsening and that DFAT is mainly concentrating on helping Australians escaping via road or ferry to neighbouring countries.
“Obviously flights are possible, we would look at that. That is something we will discuss with partner countries, but the focus has probably been more on ferries departing Port Sudan for Jeddah, and we have officers positioned in Jeddah,” she said.