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Palestinian students reach Gaza after fleeing Sudan

Relatives welcome home Palestinian students evacuated from violence-torn Sudan after they cross from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, itself no stranger to fighting. ©AFP

Rafah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinians embraced at the Egyptian border with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Friday as students returned home after fleeing the eruption of violence in Sudan.

Gaza's Crossing and Border Authority said "172 students arrived in the homeland through the Rafah border crossing, as the first batch of students coming from Sudan."

There were hugs and tears at the southern gateway to Gaza as relatives greeted young Palestinians fleeing fighting which broke out on April 15.

"The situation was really difficult, it hit everywhere in Khartoum," university student Nasser Qishta told AFP.

"The Palestinian embassy in Sudan contacted us, gathered up the students and transferred us to Gaza," added Qistha, who remained determined to return to the Sudanese capital "when conditions improve."

Governments have rushed to extract their citizens from Sudan amid the deadly violence between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

More than 500 people have been killed, according to health ministry figures which are believed to be incomplete.  

Wael al-Masri, a medical student, said the situation was akin to a "civil war".

"I thank everyone who helped us return," he said at the Rafah crossing, which was opened especially for their arrival by Egyptian authorities.

Gaza's 2.3 million residents have lived through multiple wars fought between Palestinian militants and Israel since the Islamist group Hamas took control in 2007.

An Israel-led blockade has since been imposed and obtaining the necessary permits and funds to leave the territory is nigh on impossible for the majority of residents. 

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