‘Stray bullets were showering from the sky like rain’: UAE residents evacuated from Sudan share horrific stories

70-year old Awatif Dawood, matriarch of one of the families, shared the frightening situation they all went through when battles erupted on April 15

By Afkar Ali Ahmed, Angel Tesorero; Photos by Neeraj

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Photos: Neeraj/KT
Photos: Neeraj/KT

Published: Sun 30 Apr 2023, 6:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Apr 2023, 10:23 PM

Three Sudanese families who hold UAE residency visas have been evacuated from the conflict-stricken African country. They narrowly escaped death and violence, hurriedly left their homes, and travelled for long-hours from Khartoum to Port Sudan before arriving safely in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, 70-year old Awatif Dawood, matriarch of one of the families, shared the frightening situation they all went through when battles erupted on April 15. Forces of government army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and his number two Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been at war ever since.

“Stray bullets were showering from the sky like rain,” she terrifyingly shared, adding: “The sound of blasts, explosions were heard so loud. The children were traumatised and they suffered nightmares.”

“We hid under the beds for hours, until the explosions and sound of gunshots temporarily dissipated. Then we gathered up ourselves up and tried to calm down everyone. Thankfully no one was injured or hurt but the stray bullets filled our house’s backyard,” she continued.

Awatif Dawood
Awatif Dawood

Dawood said everything now is in chaos. There is severe food shortage. Water and electricity are scarce. Bakeries and food outlets remain closed. It has become a living nightmare.

Homes ransacked

Sudan, particularly Khartoum where fierce fighting entered third week, has become a desolate place, noted Dawood. “The two warring parties chased each other in our area. They ransacked our houses and ate all the food we had. They kicked us out of our house and told us to leave for our own safety,” she added.

“We were so scared and frightened so much that we decided to leave the house immediately. We walked out carrying nothing and headed to a remote area in Khartoum."

Escape to safety

When a brief ceasefire was announced, the three families – consisting of mothers and children as young as six months old – decided to find a way to go to the port of Sudan.

Dawood said: “We heard the UAE government is evacuating its citizens, residents and people from various countries. We travelled by three cars to Suba, in outskirts of Khartoum, and from there we managed to board a bus to Port Sudan. It took us more than 14 hours to travel by land.

“Then we reached Port Sudan, where the UAE government arranged for our hotels until they evacuated us and brought us here safely,” she added.

‘Lucky we belong to UAE’

The mood at Abu Dhabi Terminal 2 on Saturday was of great relief and comfort for the evacuees. This can be summed up by the picture of an elderly Sudanese woman who was not able to hold back her tears as she was not only warmly welcome but also got an embrace as well as white and red roses from an Emirates Red Crescent volunteer.

“We are very lucky that we escaped death and violence in Sudan,” Dawood told Khaleej Times, adding: “We are very lucky that we belong to UAE and its government does not discriminate between its citizens and residents or any human being when it comes to humanitarian situations."

She continued: “The UAE is always the first to respond to humanitarian missions in any part of the world. It extends its hands to those who are distressed because of war or natural disaster.”

“On behalf of the three families as we are all related, I would like to extend my appreciation and express my gratitude to the UAE government and its people for saving our lives and providing us peace and care and love,” Dawood poignantly shared.

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