The UK has reportedly been accused of delaying Germany’s efforts to evacuate its citizens from Sudan at the weekend.
The BBC reported that it was told by senior German political sources that Britain’s mission to extract its embassy staff led to a temporary blockade of the airfield near the capital Khartoum from which subsequent evacuation flights have taken off.
The sources alleged that British forces landed without the permission of the Sudanese army, angering them that they barred access to the site.
However, a defence source dismissed the claim as “complete nonsense”.
German rescuers “lost at least half a day” as negotiations to use the airstrip took place, according to the broadcaster.
Germany and other European nations were hoping to use the Wadi Saeedna airfield to fly their citizens to safety.
The Ministry of Defence denied that Britain was responsible for any delay.
A spokesperson for the department said: “It is not accurate to suggest that Britain’s efforts to evacuate embassy staff from Sudan last weekend slowed down Germany’s plans.
“Operating in such complex circumstances will always come with challenges, but we have worked extremely closely with our French, US and particularly German partners who have facilitated access to the airfield throughout this week, and of course we remain grateful to the Sudanese Armed Forces.”
A defence source said: “It is complete nonsense to claim that we landed in Sudan without permission from the Sudanese army. We had permission.”
In an apparent swipe at the UK’s initial handling of the crisis, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would not leave civilians “to their own devices” as it completed its evacuation.
Announcing the completion of Germany’s evacuation efforts on Tuesday, she said that “unlike in other countries”, it had included all German nationals and their partners and not just diplomatic personnel.
The UK started its mission to evacuate when a ceasefire was brokered between the warring factions.