Intense fighting is raging near the Indian Embassy in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and Indians should avoid that area, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) advised on April 20. Addressing the weekly press conference, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi assured that Indian officials in Sudan are working from multiple locations in Khartoum and that External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is in New York where he is holding consultations with multiple countries to help the Indians caught in the latest African crisis.
“The Indian Embassy is located right opposite the airport and that zone has seen a lot of fighting and some shelling. There are attacks going on. Our focus is on contacting the stranded and affected people. There is no one at our embassy at the moment and the officials are working from different locations,” said Mr. Bagchi, urging Indians to avoid going in that direction. Earlier reports from Khartoum had informed that basic amenities have broken down and that many Indians are stranded in hotels that are running short of food and water as paramilitary forces have been looting hotels and shops. The week-long violence has already left around 300 dead.
“Currently our focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of the individuals wherever they are located. We are monitoring it and we are in touch with the people on the ground where there are incidents happening in various locations,” said Mr. Bagchi. Indian officials were reaching out to all citizens caught in the war in Sudan. The official urged Indians in Khartoum to reach out to the Indian officials and stay put where they were at present in view of intense fighting between multiple groups and lawlessness.
‘Keeping a close watch’
“We have been keeping a very close watch on the evolving situation there. Our mission in Khartoum has been in contact with the Indian community there. We are engaged with countries in the region and other countries who have a key role to play, particularly the U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.,” said Mr. Bagchi. He also noted that there is a breakdown in the basic conditions like electricity because of the fighting between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).
Sources said the Indian side was trying for a ceasefire which could open a window for evacuation of the stranded people and provide them relief. It is not clear if all the people would like to be evacuated as many are businessmen who were travelling in the region when the fighting broke out.
“India is in touch with both the warring sides of the war in Sudan and discussing possibilities of a ceasefire, safe passages and how to get people out,” a source told The Hindu. A similar situation had appeared last February when thousands of Indians were caught in the crisis in Ukraine when Russia launched the “special military operation” on February 24, 2022. Indians were however evacuated after a ceasefire was declared briefly. The situation in Sudan, sources said, is different as there is a lot of street-level gunfight that is making use of road network very dangerous at the moment.