France has successfully carried out an operation to evacuate 538 people from Sudan, including 209 French nationals and 329 citizens of 41 other countries, including 5 Indian nationals, amidst a complex security situation on the ground. The operation utilized both ground and air options and involved both military and diplomatic efforts.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna both made calls to top Sudanese officials, including General Burhan and General Hemetti, to ensure that security conditions were adequate for the evacuation. The French Armed Forces in Africa, particularly those based in Djibouti, were instrumental in carrying out the operation.
The French military first conducted a reconnaissance mission to ensure the feasibility of movement between the airport and the assembly points. The air bridge was then launched at 6am on Sunday, with several air rotations taking place since each carrying approximately 100 passengers.
In some instances, French troops were required to individually pick up French nationals who were stranded in Khartoum and unable to join the assembly points. The operation has opened the door for other countries to send flights to the airport and evacuate their nationals, with France ensuring coordination with Sudanese military forces to manage the landing of aircraft from other nations.
The success of the evacuation operation has been attributed to the close coordination with various French partners, and the Djibouti authorities, whose cooperation was decisive. A diplomatic source noted that “the situation was very complex, but France was able to use its military and diplomatic capabilities to safely evacuate its nationals and others.”
Furthermore, on Monday, France deployed the French Navy Frigate Lorraine at Port Sudan to assist in the evacuation of a UN convoy of 1700 people. The vessel was tasked with providing support to the UN mission, including logistical assistance and ensuring security for the convoy. Frigate Lorraine was to make a port call in Kochi, India but was re-routed to Sudan for the evacuation.
The French government has commended the efforts of its Armed Forces and diplomats, along with the cooperation of Sudanese authorities and international partners, in the successful evacuation operation. As a diplomatic source said, “This was a challenging operation that required careful planning and execution, but the safety of our citizens was our top priority, and we were able to accomplish that goal.”