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Cyprus offers help as UK begins large-scale Sudan evacuation

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The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had activated its emergency plan to receive foreign nationals evacuated from Sudan as Britain prepares to rescue its nationals to Cyprus.

In a statement, the ministry said its ‘Estia’ plan allows the “reception and repatriation of foreign citizens from an area under crisis, through the territory of the Republic of Cyprus”.

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos convened on Tuesday the Ministerial Group for Crisis Management “in the framework of the ongoing efforts of evacuating Cypriots and other nationals from Sudan”.

The ministry said that Cyprus intends to offer “facilities to friendly countries for the repatriation of their citizens from Sudan through Cyprus”.

British citizens are also expected to be taken to an RAF Akrotiri, outside Limassol, as the UK government said it “is commencing an evacuation effort to help British nationals leave Sudan from today (April 25)”.

Cyprus was used as an evacuation hub for the biggest evacuation by sea when foreign nationals were rescued from Lebanon during an escalation of tension with Israel in 2006.

Some 1,200 British soldiers who were part of a military operation out of the key British air base in Cyprus helped evacuate around 30 UK diplomatic staff and their families out of Sudan.

Arrangements are being made to fly the evacuees back home from Cyprus.

Britain’s Africa Minister, Andrew Mitchell, said about 2,000 UK citizens still in Sudan have registered with the embassy and that “intense planning” was underway for a “series of possible evacuations.”

The UK is beginning a large-scale, complex evacuation of British people from Sudan.

Families with children, the elderly, and people with medical conditions will be prioritised on RAF flights leaving from an airfield near the capital Khartoum.

The government said it has started contacting British nationals in Sudan.

Rival military factions agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire from Monday night. At least 400 people have been killed in fighting since April 15.

Around 4,000 UK citizens are thought to be in Sudan.

Only British passport holders and their immediate family with existing UK entry clearance are eligible, the government said.