A Scots diplomat has told how he was scrambled to join the UK government’s evacuation of Brits fleeing war-torn Sudan while attending his best friend’s wedding.
Glasgow-born Fraser McDougall was part of the UK government’s operation to rescue more than 2,450 people – the longest and largest evacuation by any Western nation.
The 28-year-old works for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and was despatched to the Sudanese capital Khartoum in April with the UK government’s Rapid Deployment Team.
The aim was to help British nationals fleeing the violence, which has now killed more than 800 people.
Fraser received his call to deploy just minutes before he delivered his best man speech at his best friend’s wedding.
He said: “I wasn’t actually on-call, but as it was such a big unfolding crisis, they needed all hands on deck, so I was asked if I could deploy to Sudan. So, it wasn’t just my best pal who said ‘I do’ on the day.
“The call came about 10 minutes before I was due to give my speech. It slightly dampened my ability to party quite as hard as my wife and I had hoped because I now needed to get on the first flight the next morning.”
Mr McDougall said he was proud to have been a part of the rescue mission.
“A lot of the diplomatic work we do is long-term and strategic, but this is something that has immediate tangible life-saving results – helping people escape a war zone,” he said.
More than 1.3million people are estimated to have fled Sudan.
The UK government has contributed more than £250m in humanitarian support to Sudan over the past five years and has just committed a further £5m of aid to help those displaced from their homes by the violence.
UK Rapid Deployment Teams were sent to Khartoum, Port Sudan, Cyprus and Saudi Arabian city Jeddah to support British nationals needing help.
Mr McDougall swapped his tartan wedding wear for a bulletproof vest as he joined colleagues on the ground at Wadi Saeedna airfield near Khartoum.
He said: “It was almost like an outer body experience because the processing work is relatively straightforward, but you have all this drama going on around you – babies collapsing, people coming in with gunshot wounds, people just in utter trauma.”
The diplomat, whose day job is working as a political secretary at the UK Embassy in Dublin, spent five days in the ground in Sudan.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “I’m incredibly proud of the vital work that people like Fraser are doing to help the most vulnerable in response to humanitarian crises around the globe – often in very challenging circumstances.
“People from across the UK have been at the very heart of our efforts to help people fleeing Sudan in their hour of need, and I am grateful for their tireless service and dedication.”
Source : BBC