British family’s harrowing escape from Sudan: Mother with two toddlers endures ‘terrifying’ 45-minute taxi ride to evacuation airfield as shots ring out in the distance before they board last mercy flight out of warzone
- Safa Yahya, 27, said she endured a frightening experience before leaving Sudan
- She boarded one of the last flights out of the capital Khartoum with her children
- Fighting between rebels and government troops has cost more than 500 lives
A mother told of her nerve-shredding escape from war-torn Sudan with her two young daughters yesterday as the RAF airlift of Britons ended with thousands feared left behind.
Safa Yahya, 27, from Nottingham, said she endured a ‘terrifying’ 45-minute taxi journey to the evacuation airfield while shielding Awowa Abdalla, four, and three-year-old Amany Abdalla.
‘The children were scared and crying. We could hear gunshots,’ Safa told The Mail on Sunday after arriving back in Britain.
They got one of the last flights out of the capital Khartoum. ‘It was such a difficult journey to the airport and then it was a very long and nervous wait to see if we could get on a flight to Cyprus and then the UK.’
The last mercy flight took off at around 6pm yesterday. It is unclear how many British citizens remain in the country, where fighting between Russian-backed rebels and government troops has cost more than 500 lives in a fortnight and sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing over borders.
Safe at last : Safa in London with children Amany and Awowa and a friend
READ MORE: Anguished Britons evacuating war-torn Sudan tell of their journey of hell to the airstrip
Brits evacuated war-torn Sudan
Gunfire and heavy artillery rang out in Khartoum yesterday despite the extension of a ceasefire. Safa was visiting friends in Sudan when she was caught up in the fighting. She hid in a house for two weeks before making the dash to the airfield.
They finally made it to London’s Stansted Airport last night. A friend drove them back to Nottingham for a reunion with Safa’s husband, who had remained at home because of illness.
‘They had a very dangerous journey to the airport and the children were very upset. They are tired but relieved to be here and to be safe,’ said the friend.
Earlier yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden chaired a Cobra meeting to discuss the security situation in Sudan. He denied that the Government had effectively abandoned those unable to make the potentially dangerous journey to the evacuation site.
The airlift was halted because of a drop-off in applicants ‘and the risk of renewed conflict’. But the Government has been criticised over delays in rescuing citizens and prioritising diplomats.
It is understood that by last night – the fifth day of the UK’s airlift – more than 1,650 people had reached Cyprus, before being flown on to Stansted. There are about 4,000 dual UK-Sudanese nationals and 400 UK nationals in Sudan.
Pictured: British nationals walking to board an RAF aircraft, during the evacuation to Cyprus, at Wadi Seidna Air Base in Sudan
Pictured: A ferry transported around 1900 evacuees across the Red Sea from Port Sudan
There remains a shortage food, water and fuel in Khartoum, where millions of people are trapped. Former Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok said it could be a ‘nightmare for the world’ and worse even than Syria.
Foreign Office Minister Andrew Mitchell claimed the evacuation was ‘extremely successful’.
He told the BBC it was right that the evacuation flights were ending. ‘I don’t think there’s a single Briton in Khartoum who won’t know about the evacuation, and the flow of people who’ve been coming to the airport indicate that that is correct,’ he said.
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