A teacher has told how she had to hide in the back of her car with her four children as they made a bid to escape from Sudan to try and get back to the UK.
Jennifer McLellan, 36, had to leave her home in Aj Jafra this afternoon after receiving a message from the Foreign Office telling her to head for a nearby airbase.
The mum-of-four from Islay in Scotland has been living in Sudan for the last 15 years with her husband, and now after violence erupted last week they have decided to leave.
Along with her two boys, Oscar, 15, and Harry, 13 and her two daughters, the family made the short hazardous trip this afternoon.
Around 400 people have been killed in the civil war since April 15.
Thousands of British nationals are currently being processed for evacuation after the UK launched an RAF mission during the ‘volatile’ ceasefire that began last night.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said around 120 British troops are supporting the operation at the Wadi Saeedna airfield, near the capital, Khartoum.
He told MPs on Tuesday that Royal Marines are scoping out a possible seaborne evacuation from the more ‘benign environment’ of Port Sudan, some 500 miles from the capital.
Jennifer – who spoke to Metro on her way to the airfield – said that a few days ago she had heard gunshots outside her door.
Last night warring generals said they would stop fighting for then next 72 hours.
Jennifer told Metro.co.uk: ‘It felt quiet last night, it felt like they are trying to honour the ceasefire.
‘We have been fearing for our lives in the last few days and we hope now it gets better but it has been terrifying.
‘It is a 30-minute journey to the airbase, and I have been on the back seat without my phone as I am worried what is going to happen.
‘There is just destruction on the roads everywhere. It feels like anything could happen, there is a lot of tension in the area. Even though there has been a ceasefire we don’t know what will happen.’
Jennifer has been living in Sudan since meeting her husband when he was studying in Glasgow.
The couple moved to Sudan and had two boys and two girls, aged between two and 15, and Jennifer got a job teaching English at a University.
But the family’s lives were turned upside down when a heavy bombardment began in the capital in recent days.
She said: ‘We are going to have to go through lots of checkpoints to get there. My husband has been walking around in the area around our house trying to find the essentials and trying to find bread and water.
‘I just hope I can get back to my family, we don’t want to be here anymore it really feels like in the last few days things have got worse.
‘There is a big military presence on all the roads I don’t even know how many people are going to be at the base where we get there.
‘We’re not even sure if we have enough fuel to get there but I am hoping we do.’
Her family in Scotland, including her uncle, Donald Gillies, have feared for her safety but is now hopeful she will be on the next flight home.
He told Metro: ‘It has been an incredibly stressful few days, the British government haven’t done anything to help and have left her in the dark, but now after hearing nothing I am hoping she is going to be home soon.
‘I have told her to stock up on water and bread and to keep their phones on charge so that they can stay in touch with us.
‘They have just had to leave their life behind but it is safer that they will be here with us.’
Yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed families with children, the elderly and people with medical conditions will be prioritised on RAF flights leaving from an airfield near the capital Khartoum.
Around 4,000 UK citizens are thought to be in Sudan and 2,000 of them have already requested help, Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said.
Only British passport holders and their immediate family with existing UK entry clearance are eligible, the government has said.
The Sudanese Consul confirmed to Metro that the embassy has also already received several applications for visa extensions for Sudanese men and women who are currently in the U.K.
One family, who wished to remain anonymous were at the embassy in London today and were trying to make a last ditch bid to extend the visa of their grandmother who was in the UK.
The father said: ‘We just don’t know what to do, we don’t want to have to send my mother back to Sudan, it is only going to get worse. She has a few weeks left and it isn’t safe for anyone over there.
‘She has been here for six months and we just want to make sure she is safe.
‘The situation is terrifying and I don’t want my mother to go home to an area where she could get caught up in the fighting.
‘It’s not safe for anyone.’
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has today warned that it is ‘impossible’ to ascertain how long the pause in fighting will last.
He said: ‘It is important to remember that ceasefires have been announced and have fallen apart in the past, so the situation remains dangerous, volatile and unpredictable.
‘It is impossible to predict how long the ceasefire will last. It is impossible to predict how long any other route to evacuation will remain open.’
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