In recent weeks, Sudan has been in the midst of a power struggle between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the conflict has had an impact on Bangladesh. On April 15, the residence of Bangladesh’s acting ambassador Tarek Ahmed in the capital Khartoum came under machine gun attack. A week later, the Bangladesh embassy was also attacked. Fortunately, no embassy personnel were injured in either incident.
Sudan’s ongoing crisis
The shooting incident at the Bangladesh embassy in Sudan occurred amidst a continued power struggle between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF has been accused of human rights abuses and war crimes in the country’s Darfur region. In 2019, mass protests against the government of President Omar al-Bashir led to his ousting and arrest. The military then took over, but the RSF, which was previously loyal to al-Bashir, has since become a powerful and influential force in Sudanese politics. The situation in Sudan remains tense, with clashes between the military and the RSF reported in various parts of the country. The ongoing conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis, with millions of people in need of assistance, and has also disrupted the economy and infrastructure of the country.
Bangladesh’s response to the crisis
The Bangladesh government has been working to ensure the safety of its citizens in Sudan. The embassy officials, led by the acting ambassador, have been in regular contact with the government in Dhaka since the beginning of the conflict. The embassy has also been coordinating with other countries to help facilitate the evacuation of Bangladeshi citizens from Sudan. The acting ambassador, Tarek Ahmed, has been working on a plan to evacuate Bangladeshi citizens from Sudan. The plan involves taking people who are interested in returning to Bangladesh from Khartoum by bus to the Port of Sudan, from where they will be evacuated to Saudi Arabia by ship or ferry. From there, they will be brought back to Bangladesh. The plan has been successful so far, with more than four hundred Bangladeshis agreeing to return home from Sudan.
The plan to evacuate Bangladeshi citizens
According to a senior official of the foreign ministry office in Dhaka, Ahmed proposed three options to deal with the situation. The first option was to send Bangladeshi citizens back to Bangladesh, and this has been the primary focus of the embassy’s efforts. The second option was to evacuate Bangladeshi citizens to a third country, but this has not been deemed necessary at this time. The third option was to remain in Sudan and continue working. Preparations are underway to send back the 500 Bangladeshi citizens who have expressed a desire to return home. They will travel by bus to Port Sudan and then be evacuated by ship or ferry to Saudi Arabia before returning to Bangladesh. So far, more than 400 people have agreed to return home through the proceedings, as the shelling in Sudan has reduced significantly in the past few days.
The ambassador’s departure from Khartoum
Acting Ambassador Tarek Ahmed left Khartoum on the advice of a friendly European country on April 20. His wife, colleagues, and their family members also left with him. The group encountered paramilitary forces on the road, but they were able to leave after their Sudanese driver spoke with the soldiers. Ahmed and his team left their passports and other essentials in their office and residence, which were later found completely empty. Bangladeshi businessman Abul Khair played a critical role in the Acting Ambassador’s departure from Khartoum. Khair had opened the cotton processing company Bangladesh-Sudan Cotton and Ginning Industries in 2019 and had moved the Acting Ambassador and others to Madani city, which is 240 kilometres away from Khartoum. Khair convinced the Acting Ambassador to leave the capital and helped transport him and his team to safety.
Situation worsening in Sudan
Sudan’s power struggle between the military and paramilitary forces has been ongoing since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The Rapid Support Forces, which were initially established to fight in Darfur, have played a significant role in the conflict. The RSF is accused of committing war crimes and human rights abuses, and the current conflict has resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of displacements. The situation remains tense, and there is concern that the conflict could escalate further.
Fighting flared anew in Sudan on 25 April, despite a ceasefire declaration by the warring factions, as a UN envoy said the truce was partially holding even though there was no sign that the two sides were ready for serious talks. Since Sudan erupted in warfare between the army and the RSF on 15 April, derailing a transition to civilian democracy, the paramilitaries have embedded themselves in residential districts, and the army has sought to target them from the air. The fighting has turned residential areas into battlefields, and air strikes and artillery have killed at least 459 people, wounded over 4,000, destroyed hospitals and limited food distribution in a nation where a third of its 46 million people rely on food aid.
The situation has been compounded by the release of prisoners and the takeover of a national health facility in Khartoum by one of the warring parties. Ahmed Haroun, a former Sudanese Minister, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, said he and other officials were allowed to leave Kober prison. An exodus of embassies and aid workers from Africa’s third-largest country has raised fears that civilians who remain will be in greater danger if the shaky three-day truce deal, which expires on Thursday, does not hold. The UN refugee agency has forecast that hundreds of thousands of people might flee into neighbouring countries. The situation in Sudan remains dire, and the international community needs to work together to bring an end to the conflict.
To conclude, the recent attacks on the Bangladesh embassy and the residence of the Acting Ambassador in Sudan highlight the impact of the ongoing conflict in the country. Bangladesh has been working to evacuate its citizens from Sudan, and the Ambassador has played a critical role in overseeing the safe return of Bangladeshi citizens. The incidents have highlighted the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in the country. The Bangladesh government’s efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens in Sudan demonstrate its commitment to protecting its people abroad. However, the situation in Sudan remains tense, and it is crucial for the international community to continue to support efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.