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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Tobi Thomas

British man, 85, ‘shot and wife starved to death’ after being left in Sudan

Smoke billows over Khartoum during fighting earlier this month
Smoke billows over Khartoum during fighting earlier this month. Abdalla Sholgami was shot after being forced to leave his wife to find help. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

An 85-year-old British citizen was shot by snipers and his wife died of starvation after they were left behind in Sudan, their family has said.

Abdalla Sholgami, who owns a hotel in London, lived with his 80-year-old wife, Alaweya Rishwan, who is disabled, close to the UK’s diplomatic base in Khartoum, the BBC said.

According to the report, Sholgami was not offered support to leave Sudan and was instead told to go to an airfield 25 miles (40km) outside Khartoum, crossing a war zone, to board an evacuation flight.

Faced with starvation and with no water, Sholgami was forced to leave his wife to find help. While he was away he was shot three times – in his hand, chest and lower back – by snipers. He survived after being taken to a family member in another part of Khartoum.

The family said Sholgami’s wife was left to fend for herself and it was impossible for them to reach her in an area surrounded by snipers. As a result she died of starvation.

Sholgami’s granddaughter Azhaar, who grew up in Khartoum, said the embassy was a “maximum four steps away” from her grandparents’ home.

She said: “What happened to my grandparents was a crime against humanity, not only by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), not only by the [Sudanese army], but by the British embassy, because they were the only ones that could have prevented this from happening to my grandparents.”

Sholgami managed to escape to Egypt, where he is receiving medical treatment after he was operated on without anaesthetic in Khartoum by his son, who is a doctor.

The fighting started on 15 April after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by Gen Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces commanded by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The final UK evacuation flight departed on 3 May, concluding the longest and largest evacuation of any western nation. The successful operation has evacuated more than 2,450 people on 30 flights, the vast majority of them being British nationals and their dependents.

“The Sholgamis’ case is extremely sad. The ongoing military conflict means Sudan remains dangerous. Our ability to provide consular assistance is severely limited and we cannot provide in-person support within Sudan.

“The UK is taking a leading role in the diplomatic efforts to secure peace in Sudan. We have coordinated with key international partners on the global response to the crisis, including pressing for access for humanitarian agencies to ensure communities can reach the essential services they need.”

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