Mercy Mission Evacuates Britons; RAF Airlifts 44 out of Eritrean War Zone

The Birmingham Post (England), June 8, 1998 | Go to article overview

Mercy Mission Evacuates Britons; RAF Airlifts 44 out of Eritrean War Zone


An RAF mercy mission airlifted 44 Britons out of war-torn Eritrea to the safe haven of Saudi Arabia yesterday.

The Hercules transport aircraft took off from the East African state's capital Asmara for the 90-minute flight to Jeddah.

The 44 Britons, including several children, were joined by around 60 Canadian, Australian and South African nationals fleeing the fighting.

Also on board was British Honorary Consul Mr Stephen Burgess, who only took up his new post in Eritrea last Monday.

The Foreign Office praised his handling of the crisis in organising the safe evacuation of Britons from the conflict.

"He has done an excellent job liaising with the Eritrean authorities and passing on advice to British nationals," said a Foreign Office spokeswoman.

"He has worked round the clock to ensure the safe evacuation of British nationals."

Ethiopia yesterday agreed to suspend bombing raids on its neighbour to allow evacuations from the war zone.

Another 21 Britons were flown out of Asmara aboard a US aircraft to the Gulf state of Oman, said the Foreign Office.

The RAF's mercy flight began on Saturday when a C-130 Hercules aircraft left RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, bound for the Horn of Africa.

It stopped for refuelling on the Greek island of Crete before arriving in the Eritrean capital on Saturday night.

The aircraft was on the ground for an hour while Royal Marines, carrying light weapons, helped to marshal evacuees and provide protection. …

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