The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Sudan rescue mission left UK hotelier’s wife to starve

Couple’s granddaugh­ter accuses the British embassy of committing a ‘crime against humanity’

- By Ben Farmer

A BRITISH hotelier was shot while out searching for help in Sudan while his wife starved to death at home after their calls for assistance fell on deaf ears.

Abdalla Sholgami lived with his 80-year-old disabled wife, Alaweya Rishwan, across the road from the UK’s diplomatic mission in the capital Khartoum.

Their family had pleaded for British help to rescue the couple when the country was engulfed in fighting nearly six weeks ago.

But they allege they were given no support to leave and instead told to make their own way to an airfield 25 miles outside the city, even when British troops were sent to evacuate diplomatic staff from the mission.

Azhaar Sholgami, the couple’s granddaugh­ter, told the BBC their home had been a “maximum four steps away” from the British embassy.

She said: “I was informed they had 100 troops who came and evacuated their staff. They could not cross the road? I’m still very disappoint­ed in them. My grandfathe­r used to say if anything were to happen, he was happy because the British would come for him.”

With the couple trapped in their home by fighting between two factions of the military, Mr Sholgami, aged 85, eventually ventured out to find help.

However, he was shot three times, in his hand, chest and lower back. He survived and was taken to a family member in another part of Khartoum, but his disabled wife was left alone to fend for herself.

Family members found it impossible to reach her because of the threat of being shot. They said they continued to contact the Foreign Office hotline for help, but the UK Government had not been in touch since May 3, when the last evacuation flight took off.

Ms Rishwan was eventually found dead inside the house by a Turkish official. Her remains are reported to still lie in the house.

Fighting between the Sudanese army and a paramilita­ry force called the RSF has killed at least 1,800, caused more than a million to flee their homes and left millions more with patchy access to water, electricit­y and healthcare.

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

Mr Sholgami, who owns a hotel in London, was operated on without anaestheti­c by his own son, a doctor. He has since managed to flee to Egypt for medical treatment.

The Foreign Office said the couple’s case was “extremely sad” but added that “our ability to provide consular assistance is severely limited and we cannot provide in-person support within Sudan”. It went on: “The ongoing military conflict means Sudan remains dangerous… the UK is taking a leading role in efforts to secure peace.”

Fighting has continued in the country despite diplomatic efforts and a series of truces have failed to take hold.

Saudi Arabia and the US said yesterday that the warring sides were adhering better to the latest attempt at a week-long ceasefire. The truce, brokered by Riyadh and Washington, went into effect on Monday, but fighting continued in Khartoum and the western Darfur region.

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 ?? ?? Fighting in Khartoum above; right, Abdalla Sholgami, Alaweya Rishwan and their granddaugh­ter Azhaar Sholgami
Fighting in Khartoum above; right, Abdalla Sholgami, Alaweya Rishwan and their granddaugh­ter Azhaar Sholgami

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