After being denied access to UK evacuation flight, Sudanese NHS doctor feels 'betrayed'

A doctor from the NHS who is stranded in Sudan after visiting family for Eid has pleaded with the government to transport him back to the United Kingdom, claiming he feels "betrayed" after being denied evacuation flights.

Tuesday will mark the return of Dr. Abdulrahman Babiker to his duty as registrar at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Even though he has a work authorization to work in the United Kingdom, he cannot board the rescue flight because only UK citizens with passports are permitted.

The Foreign Office asserts that it gives priority to British citizens, stating that individuals in Dr. Babikar's situation are permitted to enter the United Kingdom but must make their own journey there.

Dr. Babiker, who has worked for more than four years at the Manchester hospital, told sources that he feels completely betrayed. He also mentioned that he worked throughout Covid and is disappointed. 

Dr. Babiker did not anticipate the outcome of his perilous voyage to Wadi Seidna airbase. Speaking from the residence of a relative in neighboring Omdurman, he expressed his desire to be assisted in fleeing the conflict, which has already claimed hundreds of lives.

For nearly two weeks, rival factions within the Sudanese military have battled for control, destroying significant portions of the capital Khartoum and killing hundreds of civilians in the process. After initially advising individuals to leave the country on their own, the British Foreign Office eventually organized a series of rescue flights. However, after 16 hours of waiting in a queue north of Khartoum, Dr Babikar was denied boarding.

Dr. Nadia Baasher of the Sudanese Junior Doctor's Association stated that Dr. Babiker merely exemplified a much larger problem. She stated that at least twenty-four NHS physicians were in a similar situation, having been captured in Sudan while on short trips there, many for the Muslim holiday Eid.

She explained that some of those who had gone to the airbase had decided to leave their Sudanese families behind in order to return to their NHS employment, and that some of them were traveling with their young children.

The operation to rescue British nationals has been a difficult one, with infants, the sick, and the elderly given priority. As of Thursday, eight flights had transported 897 individuals from the east African nation to Cyprus, according to the Foreign Office. However, this is just a small percentage of the thousands of British residents believed to be in Sudan, and there are increasing reports of similar situations to Dr. Babikar's.

Dr. Baasher of the Sudanese Junior Doctors Association added that it would have a negative impact on future health service recruitment. It comes after the rival Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces agreed to an additional 72-hour ceasefire, giving hope that additional evacuation flights will be feasible.

The Wadi Seidna airfield north of Khartoum has the capacity to transport at least 500 passengers per day, according to the British military's top brass. Over 2,000 British residents in Sudan have registered for evacuation.

Mr. Cleverly also urged for the "complete implementation" of the ceasefire by the warring generals in the third largest country in Africa.