On the eve of the evacuation of French nationals on April 22, diplomatic staff tore up some 50 passports awaiting visas.
For fourteen days, Abu El-Gassim Mohammed’s family crossed Darfur on foot, fleeing the violent fighting that had broken out in the town of Al-Geneina, on the Chadian border, in the west of this region plunged into chaos since April 15 and the start of the war in Sudan between the regular army and paramilitaries. This mechanic, a refugee in France since 2019, followed the exodus of his wife, Zahya, and their five children by telephone, with the greatest difficulty, as they had to split up into small groups to escape the checkpoints manned by militiamen.
After two weeks’ walking, the family finally found refuge in a camp for displaced people in El-Fasher, in North Darfur. “On the road, my wife was attacked by Janjaweed and threatened with weapons. The children are terrified. I’m afraid of losing them at any moment, but they can’t leave the country because the French embassy has denied them passports,” says the father.
In October 2022, Abu El-Gassim Mohammed applied to the French authorities for family reunification to bring his relatives to Le Mans, where he lives. For many months, the request went unanswered. Then, after the outbreak of the conflict, the French embassy in Khartoum closed its doors in a hurry and the passports deposited by the family were destroyed.
From April 22 onwards, as fighting intensified in the Sudanese capital, France hastily organized the evacuation of its nationals. This delicate operation, dubbed “Sagittaire” and involving some 150 military personnel, enabled over 900 people of various nationalities to be sheltered. However, on the eve of the evacuation, diplomatic staff proceeded to destroy much of the equipment in the embassy. The premises were littered with shredded documents, cut-up diplomatic plates and broken service phones and computers.