A Sudanese woman married to an Indian man has issued a desperate appeal to be evacuated having been left stranded – along with her 21-month-old son – by the fighting in the country.
“Please help me and my son,” Baraah Abaker, 23, says – as countries, including India, scramble to evacuate their citizens.
Fighting began earlier this month between forces loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s army, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.
Abaker was in her final year at Bahri University when her husband Abdul Haseeb left for India in October last year for work. He left their Indian passport-holding son with her.
A veterinary doctor in her final year, Abaker was to take her exams before returning to her husband in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.
“I was in the process of getting my visa for India and was in touch with a person from Indian Embassy before the conflict broke out,” she tells The Independent. “But when I called him again [a few days back], he told me he had left for India.”
A resident of the capital, Khartoum, Abaker left for Nyala, hundreds of miles away, earlier in March to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan with her two sisters and mother.
“We didn’t know we will be stuck here,” she says. “I never really thought that my country will turn into a piece of hell for us and a land of war and conflict.”
She says her maternal home, located near the local head office of the army, has also been destroyed, its walls “hit by bullets”.
“We cannot even move around the house, let alone going back to Khartoum,” Abaker says. “My son cannot bear the sounds of shooting. We are hunkered down under the beds to save our lives.”
“I just took my son in my arms and hid,” she said of the start of the fighting.
The local hospitals are closed, with no medical staff in the neighbourhood to attend to the injured. Food stores and markets have been struck by artillery bombardment and whatever remained has been taken by civilians.
Running thin on food stock, Abaker says there is hardly enough to go for a day or two. The problem has been further exacerbated by water shortage, electricity and network issues that prevent her from getting in touch with her husband back in India.
The Indian government announced on Monday the launching of “Operation Kaveri” to bring back its nationals from Sudan. India has dispatched a warship and two airforce planes to the country.
“About 500 Indians have reached Port Sudan. More on their way,” tweeted India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar.
But Abaker and her son are yet to find help, although her husband in India has pleaded with authorities to aid with paperwork.
“I am worried and terrified here,” says Haseeb. “No one from the Indian embassy is picking up the call and no one has taken responsibility to evacuate my family”.
“I tried calling the Ministry of External Affairs and the embassy but no one has taken any serious action,” he claims.
As international flights ferrying evacuees take off from Sudan, Abaker says they are the “lucky” ones “who are evacuated and have managed to reach their home country safely to their families”.
“I hope we can have the same fate,” she says.
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