New Delhi: The Sudanese ambassador to India, Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain, has stated that the request of the Indian government for the evacuation of its nationals from Sudan is currently under consideration by the authorities. The country has been grappling with major conflicts as the army and paramilitary forces clash. Speaking to our diplomatic correspondent Siddhant Sibbal he said, ‘We have received understand the request of the Indian Government to evacuate their nationals. It is under discussion and consideration by authorities in Khartoum and they are going to decide the best way to make it possible.’
According to Indian government data, around 3,000 Indians are in the country. “We want to assure the Indian government that the competent authorities are taking all necessary measures to protect foreigners, including Indian nationals in Sudan,” said Ambassador Elhusain even as logistics issues remain, including the international airport in the capital being damaged.
Ambassador Elhusain also spoke about the current situation in the country, the ceasefire, and the attacks on diplomats.
Transcripts from exclusive interview with Ambassador Elhusain:
Siddhant Sibbal: What is the current situation in the country?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: I will give you a background of the unfortunate events that have happened. It started on the 15th, when the rebel forces attacked the Sudanese armed forces, and attacked residents of the President and that attack expanded to Khartoum international airport, Radio and TV station, and the national one. Most important thing is that this attack took place on the same day when there was a meeting scheduled between President Fattah al Burhan and the leader of the Rebel Forces. The Sudanese armed forces responded accordingly and were successful in responding and defeating the rebels.
Siddhant Sibbal: How worrisome is the situation in the country especially in the national capital Khartoum?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: These clashes take place in the capital Khartoum, and the Sudanese Armed Forces adopting a combat strategy, which is very sensitive to civilians, and the Sudanese armed forces are fulfilling their commitments and maintaining the security and stability of the country. But at the same time, having in mind this battle, these clashes are taking place in densely urban areas in the city and that is why these Sudanese armed forces are very keen to respond to the rebels and to defeat them at the same time to save the lives of the civilians.
Siddhant Sibbal: Do you expect any kind of international support to make sure that the current crisis can be resolved?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: Yes, as you have maybe the international committees, African Union, and other countries, they have expressed their interest and availability and they send the calls to both parties to stop the clashes. But our government thinks that this is a battle, in which we are defending Sudan and we think that this is an internal issue, and it should be left to Sudanese people, to solve, to solve the problem between themselves and our government is completely not accepting any sort of international interference, so no international interference.
Siddhant Sibbal: So, no international interference?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: No international interference, This is a Sudanese issue, an internal issue, and it should be solved by the Sudanese themselves.
Siddhant Sibbal: And what do you have to say about the Quartet, which is the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and UAE role?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: They are all active, and active in Sudanese politics for the last few years. And all the effort is appreciated. And, we want to say that all the efforts by all our friends and our Sudanese fractions, to convince the rebels, to integrate into the Armed Forces fail. It’s still mainly due to the refusal of the commander and the rebels.
Siddhant Sibbal: So if we talk about the situation in the city, are the diplomatic missions safe, reports have come that the diplomatic missions have been harmed.
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: I think our concern or authorities in Sudan is very aware of their responsibility to protect the employees of all foreign diplomatic missions in Khartoum. And we have taken the necessary measures to ensure their safety, but in such a situation definitely, small incidents will have been here and there. We express our sorrow for all our friends, our embassies, diplomats in Sudan, and our friends out of Sudan for those minor forces, but I think they understand the situation and the complications and they will be able, to understand that we are doing our best, our utmost but as I said, in such a situation, minor and small incidents will happen and sometimes are not avoidable
Siddhant Sibbal: so are you sending a message to European Union because I believe the European Union ambassador was harmed?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: Of course, we’re very sorry for that. We believe those diplomatic missions are in Sudan to help Sudan and its development plans and other bilateral and multilateral engagements. And when any of them has been like a target for any such attack, even if it is minor, we feel very sorry for that. But we understand this is sometime during this critical abnormal situation.
Siddhant Sibbal: What about the situation of foreign nationals that has been a big worry, because a lot of foreign nationals in the capital city, so what message would you like to send to them and the various foreign governments who are very anxious about their nationals?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: In Sudan, the Sudanese forces, and armed forces are trying to do their best in saving the civilians, whether they are Sudanese nationals or foreign nationals. And regarding foreign nationals, I think, more protection, and more attention should be given to them. They are our guests, and we are very keen to ensure their safety. My message to the international community and the foreigners in Sudan is that this battle is about finished, and it will not take long. It is only a matter of few days and things will come back to normal and they will be very safe, whether they want to stay at their home, or they want to leave
Siddhant Sibbal: I believe that there was a ceasefire that was also looked into, what happened during that ceasefire, is it holding?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: It was first announced yesterday for 24 hours but unfortunately, it did not hold, and rebels violated the ceasefire as soon as it started.
Siddhant Sibbal: So so it has been violated. So it looks difficult. do you think that any ceasefire will hold given the current situation and as you pointed out, the rebels responsible for breaking the ceasefire?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: From the government side, we express our view, we understand the importance of this humanitarian ceasefire to make the civilians able to get their necessities, things from the market. But as I told you, it was violated immediately by the rebels. It is very important to have a ceasefire, but rebels violated it.
Siddhant Sibbal: What is the situation of the Indians in the country?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: I can’t describe their situation as indifferent to other foreigners, nationals, or events of any citizen. It is obvious that all these people are staying and living under the stress of this war, and these clashes and I have sympathy with them. But I just want to make sure to assure the Indian government that that is competent authorities are taking all necessary measures to protect foreigners, including Indian nationals in Sudan and we will do our best to decide to stay or leave the country possible as soon as situations change.
Siddhant Sibbal: So when it comes to the Indian nationals, any plans you have been discussing has the Indian government reached out to you for the evacuation of the Indian nationals?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: Yes, I met officials of the Minister of External Affairs yesterday in Delhi. And we discussed these topics, and these issues and we are exchanging information the about the Indian nationals stranded, and we have some ideas and plans to make their return to their home possible in the coming days.
Siddhant Sibbal: So there is a plan which is being chalked out for the evacuation of Indian nationals:
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: We have received and understand the request of the Indian Government to evacuate their nationals. It is under discussion and consideration by authorities in Khartoum and they are going to decide the best way to make it possible.
Siddhant Sibbal: How many countries have reached out to the Sudanese government for the evacuation of their national standard in the country?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: I can’t tell the exact number, but 3-4 countries may be more or less.
Siddhant Sibbal: How do you see India’s role, Do you see India can play a role in terms of anything which the Sudanese government might think of?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: Of course, we are counting on our strong bilateral relationship with India. India has always had a chance or opportunity to play an important role in its relations with Sudan. Our relationship has always been very strong throughout the last case that is since the independence of Sudan in 1956 and during the Non-Aligned Moment, India was playing an important role and even after the disappearance of the moment by the end of the Cold War, in the 90s of last century, but India still maintained strong relations with friends in Africa, especially Sudan. India is an important country, and India is achieving the highest gross rates in the world, It comes under the Top 5 biggest economies in the world and in all these circumstances, India is an important country to Sudan and it’s a possibility that India will help Sudan to overcome its difficulties in future, and especially we know that there is a serious interest between our talks to promote and enhance economic trade relations and also we good cooperation on an international level as we look India as an important country to Sudan in these times and future.
Siddhant Sibbal: Now coming back to my question on the evacuation bid, how precarious and dangerous it is right now when it comes to evacuation as there are still fights going on, please give perspective to our viewers on how dangerous it could be right now for any mission to take place.
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: That’s what I meant when I told you about the requests that were conveyed to our—- to Sudan, to understand and answer the question about the readiness of the situation of Sudan for this evacuation operation. But as you know, our international airport is badly damaged, as airports outside Khartoum are not sure if they are ready, or if the runways are in shape if they can receive planes or not. Number two, also we need to understand and assess the security situation on the ground, as there are clashes in the streets and around the airport, around many government departments. So logistics of people who want to be evacuated from there are staying now at the airport and aircraft is still a question. But as I said in the beginning, we are studying and asking our authorities, to tell us about the correct time to make this operation happen.
Siddhant Sibbal: Last question to you, it’s about geopolitics. We saw the conflict in Europe, and there are a lot of conflicts, in Africa. Do you think the world fails to understand conflicts in Africa as compared to conflicts in Europe?
Abdalla Omer Bashir Elhusain: Maybe the comparison is not correct in general, the conflict in Europe and Ukraine is between big powers, with Russia on the side and the USA along with Western countries on the other side, but what I am trying to say yes definitely any country, any region will pay more attention to the problems and conflicts happening in its surrounding. That’s why we see the countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA and Britain are more involved in the Sudan conflict. Our neighbours and the African Union are also involved and expressed their worries about the situation in Sudan. IGAD decided to send the presidents of Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti. This is all to reflect the engagement of the regional countries and neighbours. Even these visits are not possible because of the unsuitable situation in Sudan.