Irish mom who escaped Sudan combating together with her youngsters ‘heartbroken’ as husband left behind

An Irish woman has described her dramatic escape from Sudan with her children as gunfire erupted around them – and has been left "heartbroken" as her husband remains in the country.

Mother-of-three Sarah Widaa told Sky News that she was given just over an hour's notice to get to the French embassy for an evacuation.

She and her children were airlifted out of Sudan and arrived in Djibouti on Monday morning.

Britons among dozens of people rescued on Saudi ship – Sudan latest

Describing her escape, Ms Widaa said her husband drove the family from their home in the Kafouri area of Sudan's capital Khartoum and on the way there was "gunfire" as she told her children in the car "to duck, get down on the floor".

"I was afraid," she said.

Web Search Engine

Ms Widaa said when she got to the embassy, the French "went above and beyond".

"I felt safer," she said. "They were armed. We were in the buses for over an hour. We left for the airbase.

"We stayed in the hangar for two hours. There was no food. There are Greeks there, Americans."


Amid the fighting, the water supply at their home had been cut off for five days and they had to instead get it from the black market.

"We didn't have a lot of money at home, we were worried we would get looted," Ms Widaa said.

"It was really difficult. There's a lot of Irish citizens still in Sudan."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player


Sudan: Who awaits evacuation?

Ms Widaa said her husband did not join them in the evacuation as he stayed to care for his father who has diabetes and is on medication.

She said she was "heartbroken" to leave them behind and asked that when her father-in-law's medication runs out "what is he going to do?"

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

'Everyone is getting desperate'

Ms Widaa said her cousin did not receive an email about the evacuation and instead went by bus to the Egyptian border, with the vehicle breaking down three times along the way.

She said the border was "crazy" with "quite a lot of Sudanese trying to get in".

"Everyone is getting desperate," she added.

Describing the scene she left behind in Kafouri, Ms Widaa said the day before the violence started she took her children to get ice-creams.

"Everyone was out. The same area is now pitch black," she added.

Buildings were burnt and cars with bullets were in the middle of the street, she said.

Ms Widaa said she hopes she can go back to her home, adding: "I have my house there. My kids have friends there, school there. We were happy."

Nadine, who is one of Sarah Widaa's children
Image: Nadine is one of Sarah Widaa's children

Ms Widaa's eldest daughter, Nadine, aged nine, told Sky News that it was "scary" living in the Sudanese capital during the fighting.

She said: "We had to sleep on the floor and we're scared of bullets coming in.

"We were watching TV and a bullet hit our window, it was so loud. I was shaking until the end of the day."

Irish teacher says 'shooting didn't stop for five days'

Another Irish national, called Cathy, was also among those to be safely evacuated.

The teacher, who has two sons, lives on a school campus and said the shooting "didn't stop for five days".

Image: Cathy spoke to Sky News

She said: "Our window exploded. We were under the mattress. Liam [one of her sons] said: 'Mummy the glass hit me. It just bounced off me'."

Cathy said she and her family managed to sneak out of the school and they eventually made it to a safe place where they were then taken to a friend's house before being airlifted.

Read more:
UK troops fly to Sudan as govt works on evacuation plan for Britons
Why evacuating civilians is different to extracting diplomats
Which countries have evacuated their citizens?

Trapped doctor tells of 'war zone'

Meanwhile, an NHS doctor trapped in Sudan has said he is living an "absolute nightmare" but has still had no contact with the Foreign Office.

Speaking to Sky News's Mark Austin, Dr Ahmed said he had been working in the NHS for three years and had gone home to visit his loved ones.

After the fighting broke out, he moved his family a few kilometres south of Khartoum but still did not feel safe.

He said: "The whole capital [has] become a war zone. Even considering moving out of the capital is very dangerous as well. So it is absolutely a difficult time and a stressful time."

Dr Ahmed said there was little access to water, electricity and healthcare with violence getting closer to where he was sheltering.

Dr Ahmed also criticised the UK government, saying: "I don't think we've had enough attention. They just take the diplomats out. But there are other people. We deserve more attention from them."

Artmotion China

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button