The first group of Bangladeshi evacuees from Sudan has returned home via Jeddah in Saudi Arabia after being stuck in the Northeast African country for three weeks amid fighting between the army and a paramilitary force.
As many as 136 Bangladeshis left Jeddah early on Monday and arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka around 10:30 am. Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed welcomed them at the airport.
The minister said that the other Bangladeshi nationals left in Sudan will be brought back home soon.
More than 680 of the 1,500 Bangladeshis in Sudan left Khartoum for Port Sudan for evacuation under arrangements by the Bangladesh Embassy on May 2. They have been kept temporarily at a local madrasa as evacuation efforts are underway.
Initially, the Bangladeshi nationals were supposed to take a ship from Sudan Port to Jeddah. Later, three flights of the Royal Saudi Air Force took a total of 136 Bangladeshis to Jeddah with nationals from other countries.
The Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia said Ambassador Mohammad Javed Patwary and Consul General in Jeddah Muhammad Nazmul Hoque welcomed the Bangladeshis.
The embassy added that women, children, and the sick were prioritised among the evacuees who left Sudan in the first phase.
Battles between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since mid-April have killed hundreds of people and wounded thousands of others, disrupted aid supplies and sent 100,000 refugees fleeing abroad, turning parts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum into war zones and derailed an internationally backed plan to usher in civilian rule following years of unrest and uprisings.
As the conflict continued, various countries, including Bangladesh, took the initiative to bring back their citizens from Sudan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a total of 1,500 Bangladeshi nationals live in Sudan. All those who have registered for repatriation will be brought back to Bangladesh in phases.