France helping Irish out of Sudan is ‘EU citizenship in action’, says ambassador

French efforts to airlift Irish citizens out Sudan is an example of EU citizenship in action, France’s ambassador to Ireland has said.

Vincent Guerend said 36 Irish citizens were among the 500 people flown from Khartoum to Djibouti on three French flights in recent days.

Around 50 Irish citizens and family members have been evacuated from Sudan so far with an estimated 100 remaining.

The Spanish authorities have also assisted in taking some Irish citizens to safety.

Ireland does not have the capacity to mount its own airlift operations and has been reliant on fellow EU states for assistance in the evacuation operation.

Mr Guerend said it was “natural” that the French would assist other nations given its long-standing links in Djibouti.

“In a different place it may be Ireland helping or another EU member state, we really believe that’s the core of the EU and of EU citizenship and of EU solidarity,” he told RTE Radio one. “We find it in a way natural and at the core of what EU membership is.”

The ambassador expressed hope that the 72-hour ceasefire agreed by the warring factions in Sudan would hold.

“It will certainly assist and we hope that it will hold,” he said.

“The French had the responsibility of securing the airport and today we’re handing this over to Germany.

“So, it’s very much a collective effort. That’s what I want to stress today, it’s really much about EU solidarity and about really translating EU citizenship in action.”

He said the air evacuation operations would continue for as long as is necessary.

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