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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

‘Betrayed’: Sudanese NHS doctor turned away from UK rescue flight

‘Betrayed’: Sudanese NHS doctor turned away from UK rescue flight

A Sudanese doctor trapped in Sudan who works for the UK’s National Health Service has said he feels “betrayed” after being denied a spot on an evacuation flight back to Britain, the BBC reported.
Dr. Abdulrahman Babiker, who worked for the NHS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to return to Manchester Royal Infirmary next week.

But after traveling to Sudan during Ramadan to celebrate Eid with family, Babiker is now trapped in the country following the outbreak of violence between the government and Rapid Support Forces paramilitary.

Britain has already completed eight evacuation flights from Sudan, but Babiker was turned away from the flight at Wadi Seidna air base north of the capital because he lacks a UK passport, although he does possess proof of the right to work.

The BBC reported that at least 24 other NHS doctors are in the same position as Babiker.

He said: “To be honest, I feel totally betrayed. I worked throughout COVID-19 and I’m so disappointed.

“I had spoken to my MP and had emails advising me to go to the air base.”

After arriving at Wadi Seidna, Babiker was denied entry to the aircraft and told: “We are really sorry, this is the guidance from the Home Office.”

The UK Foreign Office has said it is prioritizing British nationals as part of rescue efforts, advising others to make their own journeys back to Britain, including through the Egyptian border.

Babiker said: “I’d be more than happy to wait for other people to be airlifted before me, but to not have any chance to be rescued in this very risky situation is ... I’m really feeling disappointed.”

The UK has already airlifted 897 people out of Sudan, but thousands of other British nationals are thought to be still in the country, including many with family ties.

Babiker added: “I think this will have an impact on international medical graduates wanting to join the NHS.

“They make up about 40 percent of the workforce and it will make other nationalities think twice about whether they want to work for the NHS.”

Dr. Nadia Baasher, of the Sudanese Junior Doctor’s Association, told the BBC that many of her compatriots trapped in Sudan had traveled to the country for Eid.

“People are heartbroken by the whole situation. It’s not safe. This is is very disappointing to see that they weren’t treated with some consideration.”

UK military authorities have said that up to 500 people per day could be airlifted to Cyprus from Wadi Seidna air base.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on April 27: “I urge all British nationals wishing to leave to proceed to the airport as quickly as possible to ensure their safety.”

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