Boat with 1,687 civilians fleeing Sudan reaches Saudi: foreign ministry

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A boat with 1,687 civilians from more than 50 countries fleeing violence in Sudan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the foreign ministry said, the largest rescue effort by the Gulf kingdom to date.

The group was “transported by one of the Kingdom’s ships, and the Kingdom was keen to provide all the basic needs of foreign nationals in preparation for their departure,” the ministry said in a statement.

Fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15 between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

At least 459 people had been killed and more than 4,000 injured as of Tuesday across Africa’s third-biggest country, according to UN agencies.

A three-day US-brokered ceasefire between the warring generals brought some calm to the capital, but witnesses reported fresh air strikes and paramilitaries claimed to have seized a major oil refinery and power plant.

Saudi Arabia has received several rounds of evacuees by air and sea, starting with boats that arrived in Jeddah on Saturday carrying 150 people including foreign diplomats and officials.

On Monday, a C-130 Hercules military plane flew dozens of South Korean civilians to Jeddah’s King Abdullah Air Base, and a boat ferried nearly 200 people from 14 countries across the Red Sea from Port Sudan.

Thirteen of the civilians who arrived on Wednesday were Saudi, while the rest came from countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and North and Central America, the foreign ministry statement said.

All told, 2,148 people have been evacuated to the kingdom from Sudan so far, including more than 2,000 foreigners, the statement said.

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