Nearly half of the 150 Irish citizens trapped in war-ravaged Sudan had successfully escaped the country by Tuesday morning, April 25, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said.
“72 Irish citizens and their families have now been evacuated from #Sudan to both Djibouti and Jordan,” Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said in a tweet.
“Our teams in Nairobi, Djibouti and Dublin are continuing to work intensively to secure further evacuations.
“Grateful for solidarity and support of our EU partners.”
72 Irish citizens and their families have now been evacuated from #Sudan to both Djibouti and Jordan.
Our teams in Nairobi, Djibouti and Dublin are continuing to work intensively to secure further evacuations.
Grateful for solidarity and support of our EU partners.— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) April 25, 2023
Many were evacuated with the support of France and Spain. German and Swedish air forces also assisted in Irish evacuations, along with their own people. Officials said seats for Irish citizens were being secured on a number of flights as they arose.
French efforts to airlift Irish citizens out of Sudan are a “core” example of “EU solidarity,” France’s ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guerend claimed.
He said 36 Irish citizens were among the 500 people flown from Khartoum to Djibouti on three French flights in recent days. He told RTE Radio, “In a different place it may be Ireland helping or another EU member state, we really believe that’s the core of the EU and of EU citizenship and of EU solidarity.
“We find it in a way natural and at the core of what EU membership is…it’s really much about EU solidarity and about really translating EU citizenship in action.”
About another 70 Irish people were believed to be still in Sudan on Tuesday afternoon, with evacuation efforts continuing in the 72-hour ceasefire between the two warring factions that started at midnight on Monday. They were mainly aid workers, business people, and returned immigrants who obtained citizenship while living in Ireland.
Officials believe the figure requiring evacuation may be higher when children and other dependents are taken into account.
At least 420 people, mostly civilians, have been killed so far in the fighting which flared unexpectedly almost two weeks ago.
A full Irish Emergency Consular Assistance Team (ECAT) was on the ground in Djibouti to assist in the evacuation. The team comprised two Army Ranger Wing personnel and six Department of Foreign Affairs officials.
The Irish Times reported that it is understood they used a mixture of commercial, Irish Air Corps, and EU military aircraft to get to Djibouti. Along with most other EU nations, Ireland is using the small east African nation as a staging area for evacuations.
On Tuesday, smaller contingents of Irish diplomats and soldiers traveled on Swedish and German planes to Sudan where they assisted in processing and checking identification documents of Irish citizens before they board an aircraft back to Djibouti.
Ireland lacks aircraft of its own for such missions. A spokesman for Martin said two new Airbus C295W aircraft are expected to arrive in June and September and will be suitable for airlifts in future extraction missions like the one in Sudan.
*This column first appeared in the April 26 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.