‘Avoid movements’: India advises citizens in Sudan as armies of 2 generals fight.

India on Thursday advised its citizens in Sudan to shelter in place amid the intense fighting between the regular army and a paramilitary force, with officials saying New Delhi has contingency plans in place to ensure the safety and security of nationals.

As fighting continued for the sixth straight day, Sudan Army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, ruled out negotiations, quashing hopes for a ceasefire. One Indian national was among the more than 300 people killed so far in the fighting, which has forced thousands to flee the capital of Khartoum.

“Our advice is that at this point they [Indian nationals] need to be where they are, and seek shelter where they are rather than trying to go somewhere else till the situation improves,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular weekly media briefing.

“The situation on the ground is very tense, which renders any movement very risky. Currently, our focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of the individuals wherever they are located,” he said in response to questions about the status of Indians caught up in the fighting.

“We are in readiness for taking multiple options,” Bagchi said, adding that the Indian side already has contingency plans and teams on the ground. Any decision on pulling out the Indian citizens would depend on a pause in fighting or a ceasefire, he said.

Bagchi declined to give the number and location of Indians stranded due to the fighting that erupted over the weekend, citing security reasons. “Everybody is safe and sound, I want to emphasise that the embassy is trying to track down every Indian,” he said.

“We have been keeping a very close watch on the evolving situation…The mission in Khartoum is in contact with the Indian community through multiple formal and informal channels, and it has issued multiple advisories.”

According to the website of the Indian embassy in Khartoum, there are about 2,800 Indian nationals in Sudan, many of them professionals working in key sectors. A sizeable number of Indian businesspeople, who travelled to Sudan to finalise deals before the Eid holidays, are stranded in hotels in Khartoum.

There are no officials at the premises of the Indian embassy located opposite the airport in Khartoum, a zone that has witnessed intense fighting. The officials are operating from other areas, and have been building up a database of all the Indian nationals. They have also been reaching out to stranded Indians and counselling them on how to cope, especially in areas where power supply and internet connectivity has been patchy.

The Indian side is also working closely with several countries, especially the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, to explore options regarding the possible evacuation of Indian citizens. Other countries too are looking at options for getting out their diplomats and nationals.

“India is in close contact with them. Some countries have influence and information, others could guide us, what measures they’re taking, and perhaps we could pool resources,” Bagchi said.

Following contacts with his Saudi and UAE counterparts, external affairs minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Egyptian counterpart on Thursday. Jaishankar, who made a stopover in New York while en route to Latin America, would also discuss the situation in Sudan with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Meanwhile, the body of the Indian national killed in the fighting – Kerala resident Albert Augestine – has been moved from his apartment complex to a mortuary so that it can be repatriated.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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