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.”
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 to the UK 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.
Azhaar 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 from happening to my grandparents.”
Ms Sholgami, who lives in America, spoke to The Telegraph in late April when she was attempting to get British help for her grandparents.
At the time she said: “We have been calling the embassy for the past eight days. My family in the UK has been calling on a daily basis 10 times per day.
“There’s been no form of help. They keep saying it’s the British citizens’ responsibility to reach the airport.
She said her family had long been worried about the couple living in Sudan, but her grandfather had reassured them that he was right next to the British embassy.
She said: “My grandfather used to say if anything were to happen, he was happy because the British would come for him.”
Mr Sholgami, who owns a hotel in London, was operated on without anaesthetic by his own son, a doctor. He has since managed to escape to Egypt for medical treatment.
The Foreign Office said the couple’s case was “extremely sad” but said 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 the diplomatic efforts to secure peace in Sudan.”
Fighting has continued in the country despite diplomatic efforts and a series of truces have failed to take hold.
Saudi Arabia and the United States said on Friday that the warring sides were adhering better to the latest attempt at a week-long ceasefire, following days of sporadic fighting.
The truce, brokered by Riyadh and Washington, went into effect on Monday, but fighting continued in Khartoum and the western Darfur region. Particularly intense clashes flared up on Wednesday, the two countries said in a joint statement.
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