The Korea Herald


S. Korea evacuates nationals from strife-torn Sudan

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : April 24, 2023 - 23:36

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A convoy leaving Khartoum advances on a road towards Port Sudan, on April 23, 2023, as people flee the battle-torn Sudanese capital. (Photo - AFP) A convoy leaving Khartoum advances on a road towards Port Sudan, on April 23, 2023, as people flee the battle-torn Sudanese capital. (Photo - AFP)

South Korea evacuated its nationals from strife-torn Sudan and transported them to Saudi Arabia before heading home, the presidential office in Seoul said Monday evening.

The group of 26 Koreans on board a KC-330 multi-role tanker aircraft is set to arrive at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday afternoon, said Lim Jong-deuk, the second deputy director of the National Security Office.

Two South Korean nationals will stay in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah because they did not want to go to Korea. One also chose to remain in Sudan, the office said without elaborating. South Korea had 29 nationals in Sudan.

"We express our deep gratitude for the active cooperation of our partners, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, in conducting Operation Promise," he said. "In particular, the role of the brotherly country UAE, where President Yoon Suk Yeol visited in January, was significant."

The South Korean nationals departed the besieged Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Sunday and traveled by land to Port Sudan at around 2:40 p.m. local time Monday. From Port Sudan, approximately 800 kilometers away from the Sudanese capital by road, they were transported by a South Korean military plane C-130 Hercules to Jeddah, the presidential office explained.

Yoon Suk Yeol government established a task force on Friday to evacuate South Korean nationals from Sudan. South Korean national security adviser Cho Tae-yong is in charge of commanding evacuation operations as President Yoon left for the US for his summit with US President Joe Biden earlier in the day.

South Korea dispatched the C-130 Hercules military transport airport carrying the 707th Special Mission Group, an elite counter-terrorism unit under the South Korean Army Special Warfare Command, as well as an Air Force Combat Control Team. The C-130 Hercules landed at a US military base in Djibouti, East Africa, Saturday.

The KC-330 multi-role tanker aircraft of the Air Force arrived at Jeddah International Airport on Monday for the purpose of supporting evacuation efforts.

South Korea's Cheonghae Unit and Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin destroyer, which were previously deployed for anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast, have also been sent to waters off war-torn Sudan to support evacuation operations. The Cheonghae Unit was docked at the Port of Salalah in Oman.

The Sudanese Army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces have been engaged in fierce fighting to seize control of Sudan since April 15, triggering a humanitarian crisis and resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands being stranded.

Other countries, including Germany, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom, have also rushed to get their citizens to safety.