Interview with Ricardo Goncalves

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: The Sudan conflict; Evacuation of Australians.

Journalist: Foreign Minister Penny Wong has not ruled out further missions to rescue Australians. Ricardo Gonçalves spoke to the Minister earlier today.

Ricardo Goncalves, Host: Senator, as we heard, 36 Australians have been evacuated overnight. Are we expecting more RAAF rescue missions in the coming days?

Penny Wong, Foreign Minister: Well, look, we are looking at what is possible. Obviously, it's a very volatile security situation, which is worsening. And we're also reliant on our friends and partners, particularly in this instance, the United Kingdom, to facilitate on the ground because we obviously don't have Australian personnel on the ground in Sudan.

Goncalves: Senator, is there, though, a concern that the dynamic on the ground has changed rapidly?

Foreign Minister: The dynamic on the ground is changing rapidly, which is why we focused on doing what we could as quickly as possible, which was to secure Australian's passage on flights that our friends and partners were operating. It's a very similar situation to, for example, what happened in Vanuatu. We assisted British citizens on the ground there. Similarly, obviously, in Sudan, we seek assistance from particularly the United Kingdom, but we had assistance from the United States, from Indonesia, from the UAE, and many others.

Goncalves: And SBS News has spoken to three Australians stuck in Sudan over the past few weeks. All three felt let down by their government, saying there was a lack of communication and they had to rely on the charity of other nations to get out. So, did you do enough in the first week of this conflict?

Foreign Minister: Well, look, I understand how distressing this is and how stressful this is. This security situation has deteriorated. But what I would say is this we don't have an embassy in Sudan, as in many other parts of the world. So, what we do is we do rely on our friends and partners in those parts of the world where we don't have a substantial or any official Australian presence.

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