Sudan Conflict: Bangladeshis start leaving Khartoum
"There is a ray of hope at last. I can't express my feeling, my gratitude to the Bangladesh government. We went through hell in the last 15 days. We did not even think we could return home alive."
These were the words of relief spoken by Bangladeshi expatriate Md Saikat during a WhatsApp call with The Daily Star.
He was speaking from a bus that was headed to Port Sudan from the war-torn country's capital, Khartoum.
Like Saikat, a number of Bangladeshis stranded in the capital are on a journey to the northeast African country's port city, from where they will sail to Saudi Arabia before returning to Bangladesh.
"I left behind all that I earned in the last 18 years in Sudan, but I am still happy that I can return to Bangladesh alive."
He said they started yesterday at 9:00am (1:00pm Bangladesh time) for Port Sudan by bus, which was arranged by the Bangladesh embassy in Sudan.
Saikat, however, could not say exactly how many Bangladeshis were on a similar journey for Port Sudan, but said some 11 buses left Khartoum for Port Sudan.
Rasel Mia also expressed his joy as he started on the journey back to Bangladesh. "It was beyond my imagination. We were walking a thin line between life and death. We could have died, but we are still alive. It seems surreal to me."
He could not say exactly how long it would take to reach the port city.
The Bangladeshis, however, said surviving the entire journey would be a challenge as the road between the two locations is risky.
"The buses, carrying 650 Bangladeshis that left Khartoum for Port Sudan, have crossed the risky roads [on their path]. Everyone is expected to reach their destination sometime between midnight and dawn [today] local time," State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam wrote on his Facebook page last night.
Earlier, the Bangladesh embassy in Khartoum said they had arranged buses to take the Bangladeshis to Port Sudan from Khartoum and adjacent cities. All Bangladeshis stranded in Sudan would be taken to Port Sudan by May 2 and would reach Jeddah in a day or two, the embassy said.
Two Bangladeshi schools in Jeddah will provide food, water, medicine, and temporary accommodation for Bangladeshi nationals being brought from Sudan.