Tánaiste confirms 50 Irish citizens evacuated from Sudan

Tánaiste Confirms 50 Irish Citizens Evacuated From Sudan
Civilians board a Spanish military plane as they are evacuated from Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Spanish Ministry of Defence
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Reuters and Vivienne Clarke

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said 50 Irish citizens have been evacuated from Sudan so far, as countries rush to extract their citizens from Khartoum amid a deadly power struggle between the army and a paramilitary force.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said the evacuations were performed by France and Spain, who he thanked for a “remarkable” job.


Mr Martin said about 150 citizens had registered, including dependents, but the situation remained fluid. Irish citizens who are still in Sudan have been advised to follow the Irish Embassy Twitter account in neighbouring Kenya and to "stay indoors and stay safe" until further advised by the Irish team on the ground in Djibouti.

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 30 Spaniards were evacuated on Sunday night, accompanied by 70 citizens of other nationalities – Irish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Mexican, Venezuelan, Colombian and Argentine.

Sudan's sudden slide into conflict between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has seen hundreds of people killed, and stranded thousands of foreigners, including diplomats and aid workers.

Several evacuations are by air. Others are via Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is about 650 km northeast of Khartoum, but is about 800 km by road.

A team of Irish special forces soldiers and diplomats is on its way to Djibouti to assist the remaining Irish people in leaving Sudan.


Up to 12 members of the Army Ranger Wing, the Defence Forces special operations unit, are to accompany a small number of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs. They will form an Emergency Consular Assistance Team.

Former Army Ranger and Independent TD Dr Cathal Berry said it should be possible to send a greater number of Defence Forces to assist in the evacuation of Irish citizens.

“Realistically, you need three times that number to carry out this type of operation. But unfortunately from a legislative point of view, it's capped at 12 and it's just not enough,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Ireland and Malta are the only EU countries not to have airlift capacity, he said. It had been “normalised” in Ireland not to have this capacity “but it is absolutely not normal”.

“Not only from a logistical point of view, but also from a legislative point of view, we're not in a good place. It’s really not fit for purpose”.


The fighting in Sudan has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country, where millions of people have been left without access to basic services.

At least 420 people have been killed since the fighting broke out on April 15th, four years after long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled.

The army and RSF jointly staged a coup in 2021 but fell out during negotiations to integrate the two groups and form a civilian government, and their rivalry has raised the risk of a wider conflict that could draw in outside powers.

Frantic weekend

An Irish doctor who was born in Sudan has told of the frantic weekend she spent waiting for word of her father who was visiting Khartoum.

Dr Aiya Mohammed told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that while her father was now safe in Djibouti, she knew of other Irish citizens who were trapped in Khartoum and were making desperate efforts to get out.

Her father, who is an obstetrician in Castlebar, had been visiting family for Ramadan and had been due to fly home on Saturday evening, but as the conflict escalated and the airport was bombed there was great uncertainty about how he would get back to Ireland.

Dr Mohammed said she had been in constant contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and was told on Sunday at 8am that her father should make his way to the French embassy for evacuation.

Diplomats flee fighting in Sudan as citizens strug...
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This required transit through some of the dangerous parts of the city, but he managed to get there. However, once there were 180 people in the embassy the doors closed and people were locked out, she said.

“It was a nightmare. These are Irish citizens, they are all children of Ireland”.

Some were advised to go to the Spanish ambassador’s residence but they did not know where it was. “These people are there in the most precarious of positions”, they should have been allowed into the embassy until there were more details of where to go next, she said.

Dr Mohammed also spoke of another Irish citizen, a psychiatrist, who was visiting family in Sudan for Ramadan, with her two children aged one and 11. They fled Khartoum and went to a rural part where they could not be contacted to advise them of evacuation measures. It was her understanding that the family were now trying to get out of Sudan by road.

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