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Sudan Crisis: Leeds Woman’s ‘Nightmare’ Escape From Conflict

A woman from West Yorkshire who fled conflict-hit Sudan has said she was convinced she would die trying to get out of the country.

Alaa Sanhouri, from Leeds, said the bus carrying her and others to an airfield near Khartoum was twice hit by bullets.

The occupants of the bus were trying to escape after violence erupted in the North East African country on 15 April.

Now back home, Ms Sanhouri said the experience had been a “horrible, terrifying, nightmare”.

Since the clashes in Sudan started two weeks ago, hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands forced from their homes.

Rival military factions in the country agreed to an extension of their ceasefire at midnight local time (22:00 BST on Thursday) for a further three days.

Speaking to the BBC after returning to the UK, Ms Sanhouri said when the fighting broke out she had been on holiday to see her family in Sudan.

“I went to celebrate the last few days of Ramadan with them – the biggest, happiest day in Muslim society. I never thought it would end this way.”

She said when the conflict started, she boarded a bus with nine other British citizens heading to the Wadi Seidna airfield, north of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, and did not even have time to say goodbye to her family.

Visibly shaken, she added: “I feel like I’m born again. That trip to the Wadi Seidna airfield, there are no words to describe that.

“The bus got shot twice and we stayed on the floor. We got stopped at military checkpoints 12 or 13 times. I was sure I was going to get shot, every time they stopped the bus.

“It was horrible, it was terrifying, it was a nightmare until we saw the British soldiers. Then we felt we’re safe, we’re finally here, we made it. Everyone was crying.”

Leaving Sudan, Ms Sanhouri and her fellow bus passengers first flew to Cyprus and then on to London.

“At Stansted airport, I couldn’t say anything to my husband and children,” she said.

“I just hugged them. I couldn’t believe I could see and feel them.”

However, she said she still had concerns about her family members remaining in Sudan.

“We’re looking into plans and routes and ways to get them out.

“I’ve survived, but my mind is still in Sudan, thinking about family and friends who are still stuck there. We just hope that they get out safely.”

Ms Sanhouri also praised the British government for its part in her rescue.

“The way we’ve been treated and looked after from the moment we saw the British soldiers, then when we reached Cyprus and all the way to London, the government really looked after us.”

She said she now just wanted to “get back to normal life in Leeds”.

“I wish the best for Sudan. Sudanese are the kindest people, they don’t deserve this. They are just victims of politics,” she added.

Source : BBC