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Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

53 South Africans return home from Sudan

International Relations and Cooperation's Minister Dr Naledi Pandor is scheduled to meet the group at the Waterkloof Air Base.

[Update] At least 53 South Africans who had to be evacuated from Sudan are back home safely on South African soil.

International Relations and Cooperation’s Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, touched base with the group after they had landed at the Waterkloof Air Base.

WATCH: Naledi Pandor addresses citizens returning from Sudan

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela says the remaining 53 people arrive after ten South Africans and a Zimbabwean national touched down at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday evening after evacuating conflict-ridden Sudan.

A family member of some of the passengers stranded in Sudan thanked Dirco and South African NGO Gift of the Givers for helping citizens escape the violence that broke out in the Sudanese capital.

ALSO READ: Sudan: Raging battle sparks mass evacuations by countries

Clashes between rival military factions in Sudan broke out mid-April due to a power struggle.

Military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, have been fighting over the planned integration of Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces into the regular army.

While heavy fighting rages on and billowing clouds of smoke from air strikes paint the skies of Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum black, countries across the globe are scrambling to get their citizen’s out of the country.

Monyela confirmed that 41 South Africans stranded in Khartoum have been safely evacuated.

The rescue mission, which included a gruelling trip to Egypt, took place amid a US-brokered ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals, but it yielded little success.

ALSO READ: 77 South Africans still stuck in Sudan, govt’s evacuation plans hampered by fighting

Gift of the Givers assists in evacuation

The non-governmental humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers played a crucial role in evacuating citizens.

According to the foundation chairperson and founder, Imtiaz Sooliman, eight South Africans and an American man and his daughter – also a South African – are on their way to a ferry from the Egyptian border.

“We hope they make the ferry tonight (Saturday night) and, from there onwards, to Aswan,” Sooliman said.

ALSO READ: Sudan latest: South Africans and ‘war dogs’ to arrive in SA

Dangerous Sudan evacuations ongoing

On Sunday, the UK vowed to support Britons trapped in Sudan. Still, it said conditions had grown too dangerous to continue evacuation flights.

“The final Royal Air Force (RAF) flight left the Wadi Saeedna airfield north of Khartoum late on Saturday, four hours behind schedule, taking to 1,888 the number of Britons and their relatives evacuated since Tuesday,” AFP reported.

“The evacuation that we’ve conducted is the longest and largest evacuation of any Western nation,” Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News.

“And so we’ve taken out 1,888 British nationals and their dependants, which I think is a testimony to a successful evacuation effort.

ALSO READ: Sudan update: Undocumented travellers denied entry into Egypt

Turkish aircraft takes a hit during evacuations

One Turkish aircraft was shot at in Sudan last week, Harper said, “demonstrating that that evacuation was not without risk, and we therefore can’t stay there indefinitely”.

“But we were clear with British citizens about the need to get to the airfield to evacuate.” Some 2,000 Britons in Sudan had signed on to a Foreign Office list, and anyone eligible was given until Saturday morning to reach the airfield to process and board the final flights.

Additional reporting by Cornelia Le Roux annd AFP

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