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Greeks Trapped in the Orthodox Metropolis of Sudan as Battles Rage

Greeks Sudan civil war
Thick smoke was seen rising from Khartum’s airport as at least 100 people have been killed in the civil war. Credit: video screenshot, YouTube/ABC News

Several Greeks, including three children, are trapped inside the Greek Orthodox Metropolis in Sudan’s capital Khartoum as fighting between rival forces continues for a third day.

Almost 100 civilians have died during the violence between the leaders of Sudan’s army and a rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

At least 15 people, Greeks and other nationalities, remain trapped inside the metropolis with little food and only basic necessities.

The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Nubia, Savvas, told SKAI TV that bullets have rained down on the church since Saturday.

“This is happening for the first time. Never before have rival factions hit a place where there is a flag of another state,” he said, but added that the church has not been targeted: “Bullets that hit the building seem to be stray bullets from the battles nearby.”

“We live in fear,” said Alexandra Kalimeri, a Greek woman stranded in the metropolis.

“We can’t go home. We can’t get anything from the shops, everything is closed, the army is everywhere. We have little food and we have closed the doors of the metropolis, no one goes out or looks through a window, nothing,” she told SKAI TV.

Among those trapped in the church are three young children, she added.

The fighting in Sudan erupted on Saturday between army units loyal to the country’s de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy leader of Sudan.

Two Greeks injured by rocket fire in Sudan

According to the Metropolitan of Nubia, armored vehicles surrounded the metropolis where a service was taking place to mark the Resurrection of Christ. When the churchgoers dispersed to go home, two of them were hit by a rocket that landed in the area.

“Two Greeks came and informed us that we have to stop because outside the temple there are many tanks, a lot of army and the situation is dangerous,” said the Metropolitan.

“We shortened the liturgy, but we had an unpleasant event: as two Greeks were leaving the church and heading home, because they live in the Greek community, a rocket fell next to them and injured them. They are in the hospital, we are waiting to see if they will be operated on or not,” he continued.

“Basic concern at this time remains the safety of Greeks in Sudan. It is necessary to comply with the relevant instructions given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The two Greek wounded are in a hospital and so far there is no information about other Greek wounded. Anything new will be reported,” it said.

The Foreign Ministry recalls that “from the first moment the security situation in Sudan deteriorated due to the armed conflicts there, it immediately issued a statement asking Greeks in Sudan to observe the maximum possible security measures and avoid unnecessary travel.”

Power struggle in Sudan

The power struggle in Sudan appears to have been sparked by a proposed transition to civilian rule. Military officers have headed Sudan’s government since a coup in October 2021 but there are plans to transition to a civilian government.

However, the proposed transition to a civilian-led government has faced obstacles due to a disagreement over the timeline for integrating the RSF into the national army. The RSF has pushed for a delay of 10 years, while the army has insisted on a two-year timeline.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s president, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the vice president, are now locked in s struggle with one another for control of Sudan. The national army is supporting the president, whereas the RSF supports the vice president.

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