Zimbabwe has successfully evacuated over 100 of its nationals who were caught in the armed conflict in Sudan. The first group of 44 evacuees arrived at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare on Friday, with the remaining 57 expected to arrive soon.
The evacuees were received with emotions running high as families were reunited after being separated for a long time. Tears of joy ran down their faces as the group of 21 evacuees emerged from the exit gate of the arrivals terminal.
During interviews, some of the evacuees narrated the ordeals they went through when battles broke out in Sudan. Susan Mukando, an evacuee, recalled the devastating situation of helpless Sudanese trapped in their homes, with dwindling supplies of food, water, and other life necessities. Pride Mubaiwa, another evacuee, spoke about the trauma he and his family experienced during the conflict, with gunfire and bombings happening 24/7.
Anna Madekubveni, a mother who came to pick her daughters among the evacuees, couldn’t hold back tears of joy. “I thought my family was going to perish, considering what was happening — the situation was dire, I had completely lost faith,” she said.
According to the Zimbabwean government, arrangements for the evacuation were made after the warring parties agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire to allow foreigners to leave. More than 500 people have been killed and over 4,000 others wounded since the outbreak of the conflict, according to the Sudanese Health Ministry.
The evacuation was a rare feat for an African country, demonstrating the Zimbabwean government’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its citizens abroad. The move could inspire other African countries to follow suit in prioritizing the safety of their citizens in times of conflict.
The Zimbabwean government worked with various stakeholders to make the evacuation a success. The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, and the Ministry of Health and Child Care were among those involved.
The evacuees underwent medical checks before leaving Sudan, during their travel, and after arrival in Harare. The government has also put in place measures to ensure that the returnees adhere to COVID-19 prevention protocols.