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Sudan: the crucial role of the military base in Djibouti for the evacuation of Italian citizens

Thanks to an operation coordinated by the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with defense structures and intelligence support, a total of 105 Italian citizens and 31 foreigners were made to embark on board an Air Force C130 and a Spanish AM400 and transferred to Djibouti

© Agenzia Nova - Reproduction reserved

The evacuation operations of Italian personnel from Sudan, successfully completed yesterday evening, had the Italian military base as their main hub “Amedeo Guillet” of Djibouti, the small country at the southern end of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aden. It is here that the 23 compatriots evacuated from Sudan, hit in recent days by a violent armed conflict, were welcomed here in the late evening of Sunday 97 April. Thanks to an operation coordinated by the Crisis Unit of the Foreign Ministry, with defense assets and intelligence support, a total of 105 Italian citizens and 31 foreigners - including Portuguese, Australian, Greek, British and Swedish citizens - they were loaded aboard an Air Force C130 and a Spanish AM400 and transferred to Djibouti. The operation involved 36 Air Force soldiers and 29 members of the special forces.

In the early hours of Sunday 23 April, the compatriots were brought together at the residence of the Italian ambassador, Michele Tommasi, who coordinated the organization of the convoy which reached Wadi Seyydna airport, the only way out aerial as the international airport of Khartoum is unusable due to damage from the fighting. In collaboration with other European and allied countries, an international airlift has made it possible to reach the military base in Djibouti, where compatriots will be hosted. The repatriation will take place this evening with an Air Force flight.

Due to its strategic position, on the territory of Djibouti there are several foreign military bases, the largest of which is that of the United States, followed by France, Japan, China (which in 2017 inaugurated its first military base abroad), Saudi Arabia and, indeed, Italy, for a total of about 10 soldiers present. Other European countries – including Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain – instead rely on the existing military bases of the allies. The Italian military presence in Djibouti dates back to ten years ago (October 2013), when the "Amedeo Guillet" advanced operating base was inaugurated. Located near the city of Loyada, 7 kilometers from the border with Somalia, the base depends on the Joint Operational Command (COVI) and hosts on average about a hundred soldiers - 117 according to the latest available data - including the army, carabinieri, riflemen of navy and air, but can accommodate up to 300 people and has the main task of providing logistical support to Italian military operations in East Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The Italian base hosts the protective military units of the San Marco brigade, intended for embarkation on merchant ships in transit to the Indian Ocean, and Italian special forces teams. Since 2013 it has also hosted a training unit of the Carabinieri which constitutes the bilateral training mission of the Somali and Djiboutian police forces (Miadit) for the training of the local police force and the Somali one, while since August 2014 the The Air Force - with Task Group Atlante part of Task Force Air Djibouti - has deployed some remotely piloted MQ-1 Predator reconnaissance aircraft, then used in support missions to the Eunavfor operation (“Atalanta”), the diplomatic-military mission of the European Union to prevent and suppress acts of maritime piracy along the coasts of the Horn of Africa states. The security and protection of the Djibouti base is entrusted on a rotational basis to air riflemen of the 16th Wing of the Air Force, marine riflemen of the San Marco Brigade of the Navy and soldiers of the Italian Army, such as the second Alpine Regiment and the 121st “Ravenna” anti-aircraft artillery regiment.

The evacuation operations of Italian personnel from Sudan made it possible to rescue 97 compatriots and saw the involvement of three C-130 aircraft and 36 elements of the Air Force, as well as 29 elements of special groups: from the 97th Regiment "Col Moschin ” to the commandos of the Navy. This was stated by the Minister of Defense, Guido Crosetto, commenting on the evacuation operations of Italian citizens from the African country, successfully completed yesterday evening. “Fortunately, there is a tested system that does not depend on the government but on the state, starting from the Joint Operational Command (Covi) which coordinates all the armed defense forces. Alongside them were the personnel of Aisi (the intelligence agency for internal security) and of the Carabinieri who were already present. More people who coordinated work together with other allied countries and made it possible to evacuate XNUMX Italian citizens", said Crosetto, finally recalling "the ten nuns who wanted to stay and carry on their mission even though they were able to leave".

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