The UK shares longstanding historical ties with Sudan and has been a committed advocate of its democratic transition since the 2019 revolution. Regrettably, the fragile security situation across Sudan has been compounded by a series of political crises. Since the military coup in 2021, the UK has encouraged all Sudanese political actors to engage in talks to restore a civilian-led government; a message our Ambassador to Sudan reiterated in a tweet on 21 October. After signing a political agreement in December 2022, negotiations had been making good process with a final agreement due to be signed on 6 April and a civilian government to be put in place on 11 April.
However, this progress stalled in recent weeks due to failures within the military to agree on a unified command structure for a single military under the transitional government. Despite diplomatic efforts from the international community, these tensions have now led to violent conflict, originating from an outburst between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum on 14 April. Alongside HM Government (HMG), I strongly condemn this outburst of violence, which has become unpredictable and varied, spreading beyond the capital, damaging homes and infrastructure.
More than 528 innocent civilians have already lost their lives in this deadly conflict to date. Continued fighting will only cost further civilian lives and worsen the existing humanitarian crisis.
The final UK evacuation flight from Port Sudan departed on 3 May, concluding the longest and largest evacuation of any Western nation. The successful operation has evacuated more than 2,450 people on 30 flights, the vast majority being British nationals and their dependents. I commend the exceptional work of my colleagues in the FCDO Crisis Centre, who worked 24/7 seamlessly across Government to coordinate HMG's response and the Ministry of Defence, including the bravery of our service men and women, for completing this operation successfully amidst extremely dangerous circumstances.
I am aware of the challenging situation UK work permit holders face in Sudan. As I understand it, the evacuation criteria was extended to non-British nationals in Sudan working "as clinicians within the NHS, and their dependents who have leave to enter the UK." For further information regarding this criteria, please click here - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-evacuation-flight-from-port-sudan-announced
A peaceful political transition to democracy and civilian governance is still possible in Sudan. However, to achieve this, both sides of this conflict must end the violence and de-escalate tensions imminently. To this end, the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, and Africa Minister have engaged, directly or through intermediaries, with the two military leaders to urge a ceasefire.
More broadly, the UK is leading the international community's calls for an end to hostilities and return to negotiations to agree an immediate return to civilian government, for the sake of the people, as outlined in the UK-led UN Security Council statement on 18 April. I know the Prime Minister and the FCDO ministerial team have also been speaking to their counterparts across Government, as well as working closely with 15 of our international partners, including the US, France, Egypt and the African Union.
In my Ministerial role at the DWP, I am helping deliver support and guidance to refugees to help them progress in their new lives, move into employment and help shape their next stage.