MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Scores of Somalis fleeing violence in Sudan arrived in their Horn of Africa nation on Sunday, an official said.
Some 148 Somali nationals, mostly students, arrived by plane in the capital Mogadishu, said Abdurahman Nur Mohamed Diinaari, a top official with the Somali foreign ministry.
“Through the assistance of the International Organization for Migration, Somalia’s foreign ministry has finally been able to relocate 148 Somalis from Sudan to Somalia today,” he said.
The Somalis had traveled by land from Sudan to Ethiopia and then onward by air to Somalia. Forty-five of those who arrived Sunday were later transported to Garowe, the administrative capital of the Somali state of Puntland, Diinaari said.
Somalia itself has been plagued by violence for years. The Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which opposes the federal government, frequently launches deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of the country.
One of the Somalis evacuated on Sunday said in an interview that she was happy to be alive and back in her country.
“I am pleased that I have finally arrived in my country. However, what we have been through is unusual and hard to describe, but I am grateful for the opportunity to survive,” Ramlo Mohamed, one of the evacuees, told AP. “I pray in the meantime for God to assist our Muslim brothers in Sudan in alleviating their plight.”
There were an estimated 7,000 Somali nationals in Sudan before violence broke out earlier this month, most of them attending universities there. Others are business people and migrants hoping to reach Europe, according to Ewa Naqvi, deputy chief of mission of the U.N. migration agency.
The fighting in Sudan pits the army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, against Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces. Some of the deadliest battles have raged across Khartoum, the capital.
Ordinary Sudanese have been caught in the crossfire. Tens of thousands have fled to neighboring countries, including Chad and Egypt, while others remain pinned down with dwindling supplies. Thousands of foreigners have been evacuated in airlifts and land convoys.
The Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, which monitors casualties in the violence, said Sunday that over the past two weeks 425 civilians were killed and 2,091 wounded. The Sudanese Health Ministry on Saturday put the overall death toll, including fighters, at 528, with 4,500 wounded.