Kenya and Uganda are evacuating their nationals stuck in Sudan as the Sudanese army and paramilitary group fight enters the second week.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs minister Dr Alfred Mutua said Monday that the government expects to get out up to 400 citizens via land and air through at least four countries, including Ethiopia.
“I wish to thank South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for granting permission for Kenyan planes meant to evacuate stranded Kenyans in Sudan, to overfly their airspaces,” Dr Mutua said.
Uganda is evacuating its 300 nationals, including diplomats, business people, students and Hajj pilgrims that were en route to Saudi Arabia when the violence broke out last week.
On Sunday, Uganda's envoy to Khartoum ambassador Rashid Ssemuddu said the embassy hired six long haul buses to transport the evacuees across the Ethiopian border from where they will take a flight to Entebbe.
The Kenyan rescue operation is being conducted in coordination with the Kenya Air Force, Dr Mutua said, adding there are three active evacuation programmes.
Under the first programme, Kenya has already facilitated the return of 29 students, who crossed the border to Ethiopia by road.
“They are on the way to Gondor, from where they will fly to Addis Ababa then to Nairobi,” Dr Mutua said of the route to Ethiopia via the eastern parts of Sudan.
Most of the stranded Kenyans are students in Khartoum, reflecting Sudan's recent position as a higher learning destination for many from East Africa nations.
In the second programme, a Kenya Air Force aircraft is due to airlift another group of 18 students, who are currently traveling by road to the South Sudan border.
Under the third plan, he said a large group of Kenyans on a “well-planned programme of travel” will fly from Port Sudan to Jeddah in two aircraft, and thereafter travel to Nairobi via Kenya Airways.