Zimbabweans who were living and working in Sudan have faced a harrowing experience following the recent fighting that involved the army and a paramilitary group in and around Khartoum. Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Sudan, Mr Emmanuel Runganga Gumbo, quickly arranged for the safe evacuation of Zimbabwean nationals from the country to Port Sudan, with the assistance of the United Nations.
One of the evacuees, Mr Watson Nyakutira, spoke to The Sunday Mail about his experience during the journey from Khartoum to Port Sudan. He reported that the journey was arduous and risky, taking more than 25 hours to complete. After arriving in Port Sudan, the evacuees had to travel by ship for another 36 hours to reach Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Mr Nyakutira expressed his gratitude towards the Zimbabwean President and Ambassador Gumbo for ensuring their safety and swift evacuation.
The first group of 42 Zimbabwean nationals arrived home on Friday, with a second group of 21 evacuees expected to arrive tomorrow. The group includes teachers and staff members from the Zimbabwean Embassy in Khartoum.
Ms Pauline Hungwe, a teacher in Khartoum, shared her experience of hearing gunfire and bombings for the first time in her life when conflict erupted in the capital on April 15. She expressed concern for the children who witnessed the violence and described the traumatic experience of seeing dead bodies scattered around the city.
Mrs Brenda Mutandwa-Chiswa, a teacher, and her husband were in Riyad, a suburb close to the fighting in Khartoum when the conflict erupted. They described the heavy bombings, fighter jets flying over their homes, and continuous gunfire. The couple struggled with food, water, and electricity shortages during the conflict. Mr Sydney Chiswa expressed fear and concern about skyrocketing prices and the scarcity of water due to the violence. Mrs Mutandwa-Chiswa is still traumatised by the experience.
Ambassador Emmanuel Runganga Gumbo stated that they took advantage of a temporary ceasefire to evacuate Zimbabwean nationals. He mobilised logistics to move them to the relatively safe Port Sudan, where they joined the United Nations convoy. All Zimbabwean nationals were successfully evacuated without anyone being left behind. Ambassador Gumbo has also returned home.
Fighting broke out in Khartoum in mid-April between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, with many people losing their lives and homes. The situation remains tense, and the international community continues to monitor developments closely.