Norwegian diplomats in safety

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The three Norwegian diplomats who were posted to Sudan have now been evacuated. ‘I am pleased and relieved that our three Norwegian diplomats are now safe after being caught in the fighting in Khartoum for a week,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The Norwegian diplomats were serving at the Norwegian Embassy in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The Embassy has now been temporarily closed, but the Foreign Service is fully focused on providing assistance to Norwegian citizens and individuals holding a valid Norwegian residence permit who are seeking to leave Sudan.

The operation to extract the three diplomats entailed a certain degree of risk. But the situation in Sudan became so critical that it was necessary.

‘The personnel we have evacuated have been subject to a great deal of stress. We wish to protect their privacy during the time ahead and urge everyone to respect their need for peace and rest,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

Approximately 80 Norwegian nationals have been registered in Sudan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively working with other European countries to explore ways to provide assistance for those leaving Sudan. The situation in the country remains volatile and unpredictable. Moving around Khartoum and Sudan is still a great risk. Norwegian nationals must assess their security situation before deciding to relocate.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent an emergency response unit to Djibouti. This unit will coordinate with other countries and prepare the assisted departure of Norwegian nationals when the situation allows.

‘A large-scale effort is now underway that includes determining which Norwegian nationals are in need of assistance. There are many of them who are now experiencing serious difficulties. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with a number of other countries and is doing everything possible to make sure we are ready to help Norwegian nationals depart from Sudan as soon as the situation permits,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

The fighting in Sudan began on Saturday 15 April. The situation is unstable, especially in the Khartoum area, where airstrikes and street battles continue and the airport is closed.

‘Norway strongly urges the parties in Sudan to respect the ceasefire, comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians, aid workers and diplomats. In the long term, the challenges that Sudan is facing can only be resolved through a political process. Right now the ceasefire is paramount. Civilians must be allowed to find safe shelter and foreign nationals to leave the country. There must be full and unhindered humanitarian access,’ the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

There is widespread suffering among the civilian population, the scale of destruction is enormous, and the humanitarian situation is alarming in many areas of Sudan.

‘Norway strongly condemns the violence now raging in Sudan. It is unacceptable that hundreds of innocent lives have been lost. The responsible leaders must do everything possible to prevent further loss of life and the international community must do all it can to stop the fighting,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

Norway’s Ambassador to Sudan, Endre Stiansen, is among the three diplomats safely evacuated.

‘As one of the three Norwegian diplomats now evacuated, I am happy and relieved that all three of us are finally safely on our way home to Norway after spending the last week in partial seclusion behind locked doors in Khartoum. I would like to thank everyone who took part in this dangerous operation, including one of our locally employed staff members, who was by my side throughout the crisis. He has been an invaluable support. We are very sad that we had to close the embassy. But I do look forward to continuing to work towards a more peaceful future for the people of Sudan,’ Mr Stiansen said.