(CBrief) – President Joe Biden has confirmed a mass evacuation of United States personnel from Sudan as a civil war rages in the African nation.
The president took to Twitter to make the announcement.
“Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract U.S. Government personnel from Khartoum in response to the situation in Sudan. I am grateful for the commitment of our Embassy staff and the skill of our service members who brought them to safety,” he said. “I am receiving regular reports from my team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible. We are also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort.”
“This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It’s unconscionable and it must stop. We’re temporarily suspending operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, but our commitment to the Sudanese people and the future they want is unending,” he said.
I am receiving regular reports from my team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible. We are also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 23, 2023
As for civilians, and there are an estimated 16,000 United States citizens in Sudan, they are on their own as the White House said the military will not be evacuating them.
“It’s absolutely imperative that U.S. citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements to stay safe in these difficult circumstances,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said .
“Americans should have no expectation of a U.S. government coordinated evacuation at this time. And we expect that that’s going to remain the case,” he said.
The New York Times reported.
Almost 100 people — mostly U.S. Embassy employees — were evacuated using helicopters that flew in from the nation of Djibouti, about 800 miles away, according to U.S. officials. Just over 100 special operations troops were involved.
Within hours of the U.S. announcement, other countries and foreign groups followed suit. A convoy of vehicles carrying United Nations personnel left the city from the group’s headquarters in Sudan, according to a U.S. official. Britain, France and the Netherlands also said they had moved to evacuate their nationals and diplomatic staff, a day after Saudi Arabia did the same.
The moves came on the ninth day of brutal fighting in Khartoum and other parts of the country between the army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, whose leaders are vying for supremacy in Sudan.
At least 400 people have been killed in the ensuing clashes and 3,500 injured, according to the United Nations. They include at least 256 civilians who died and 1,454 who were wounded, according to a doctors’ union.
On Friday Secretary Of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States had temporarily suspended operations in Sudan.
“The U.S. Department of State has temporarily suspended operations at our Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan and safely evacuated all U.S. personnel and their dependents under our security responsibility. Suspending operations at one of our embassies is always a difficult decision, but the safety of our personnel is my first responsibility. I directed this temporary action due to the serious and growing security risks created by the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. The widespread fighting has caused significant numbers of civilian deaths and injuries and damage to essential infrastructure and posed an unacceptable risk to our Embassy personnel. I applaud the skill and professionalism of our team on the ground, U.S. military forces, and others across the government who carried out this evacuation mission,” he said.
“We will continue to assist Americans in Sudan in planning for their own safety and provide regular updates to U.S. citizens in the area. We will also continue to coordinate with our allies and partners as well as our local partners on efforts to ensure the safety of their personnel,” the secretary of state said.
“I reiterate my call to both sides to urgently extend and expand the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire to a sustainable cessation of hostilities to prevent further damage to the Sudanese nation. We remind both belligerents of their obligations under international humanitarian law, including obligations related to the protection of civilians. The United States, in partnership with the region and international community, will continue to press efforts to bring an end to this fighting and a return to the process of transition to civilian government,” he said.