The first flight carrying British nationals has left Sudan – with two more trips to take place overnight, Downing Street has said.
UK citizens were being processed for evacuation at an airfield near war-torn Khartoum on Tuesday after an RAF mission was launched during a “volatile” ceasefire brokered between the warring factions.
British citizens will then be flown to the UK “fairly rapidly” if the process goes according to plan, Downing Street said.
“The first flight has left and you can expect that there will be at least two more flights overnight tonight – but that is subject to change,” Rishi Sunak’s spokesman confirmed.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said around 120 British troops are supporting the operation at the airfield near the capital, which is currently being secured by the German military.
British passport holders are being urged to make their way to the airfield where priority will be given to the most vulnerable, with more than 2,000 citizens having registered in Sudan with the Foreign Office.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has warned that it is “impossible” to ascertain how long the pause in fighting will last after the rival generals agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire.
“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,” he told broadcasters.
HMS Lancaster and the RFA Cardigan Bay have both been sent to the region.
An RAF C-130 Hercules carrier that has travelled back from Khartoum to Cyprus was understood to have been carrying an advance team.
The Prime Minister described the evacuation as “large scale” as he paid tribute to the armed forces, diplomats and Border Force staff carrying out the “complex operation”.
He said Britain will work to “end the bloodshed” in Sudan.
Families with children or elderly relatives, or individuals with medical conditions, will be prioritised for the flights.
Only British passport holders and immediate family members with existing UK entry clearance are being told they are eligible.
Nationals have been warned that all travel within Sudan is “conducted at your own risk”.
More than 420 people, including at least 273 civilians, have been killed since fighting began on April 15, and a further 3,700 have been wounded.
The Foreign Office stressed that “senior diplomats” will be supporting the evacuations, after it emerged that British Ambassador to Sudan Giles Lever and his deputy were out of the country when violence broke out in Khartoum.
The latest figure for UK citizens registering with the embassy for evacuation is a little over 2,000, but the true number of British nationals in Sudan could be higher.