Special forces withdraw US embassy staff from Sudan

U.S. Department of State — US Special Operations Forces successfully evacuated US diplomats and their families from the US Embassy in Khartoum early Sunday morning. Officials said the operation lasted less than an hour. France announced later on Sunday that it was also evacuating its diplomatic staff from Khartoum.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Saturday night that embassy operations in Khartoum had been temporarily suspended. Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan on April 1. February 22, 2023. Fighting in the capital between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Force resumed after an internationally negotiated ceasefire failed. Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, April 22, 2023.

Fighting in the capital between the Sudanese army and Support Forces quickly resumed after an internationally negotiated ceasefire failed. Blinken said he had ordered the temporary closure of the embassy due to the “serious and growing security risks posed by conflict between the Sudanese armed forces and the rapid support forces” causing a significant number of casualties. casualties and civilians, the statement said. speak. .

President Joe Biden, in a personal statement on Saturday night, said the evacuation was complete and he thanked the US military for carrying out the task. “I am proud of the exceptional commitment of our embassy staff, who have carried out their duties courageously and professionally, while demonstrating the friendship and solidarity of the country. America with the people of Sudan,” Biden said. “I’m so grateful for the unparalleled skill of our service members who got them to safety.”

Biden also thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, which he said played a key role in the “success of our campaign.” Officials said about 70 Americans were airlifted from the embassy to Ethiopia. An official said diplomatic colleagues from other embassies present at the US embassy at the time of the airlift were also brought into the airlift operation. They said Biden ordered after receiving an assessment from national security advisers on Saturday that the fighting would not subside.

A woman carries a gallon of water during the clash between the Rapid Support Paramilitary Force and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, April 22, 2023. A woman carries a gallon of water during the clash. conflict between the Rapid Support Paramilitary Force and the army in Khartoum Northern, Sudan, April 22, 2023. In recent days, Blinken has spoken several times with General Abdel Fattah Burhan, commander of the armed forces. Sudan and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the opponent’s Rapid Support Force, known as Hemedti. Blinken urged the two generals to respect the national ceasefire at least until the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr on Sunday. Blinken reiterated that call to both sides in his statement on Saturday night.

The two generals were once allies, who seized power in a coup in 2021 but later disbanded in a bitter power struggle. The sudden fighting that broke out a week ago has pushed this city of more than 5 million people to the brink of collapse, with residents huddled in their homes without power amid shelling and militants roaming the streets. , looting houses. According to the World Health Organization, more than 400 people have died. Experts told VOA that the situation in Khartoum is very serious. Nicole Widdersheim, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Washington, speaks to VOA via Zoom.

Some US citizens left Sudan on Saturday despite heavy fighting “And then what worried me the most was that we also heard that the Sudanese people continued to try to flee from bombardment and air raids, which I understood from our experts, who having direct contact with the people of Khartoum, it’s getting worse. It’s getting worse.” increasingly blind. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said Friday that US authorities have been in contact with hundreds of US citizens believed to be in Sudan. The department has confirmed the death of a US citizen in the country.

This person is not a US government employee. “We have advised Americans not to travel to Sudan since August 2021, and the US Embassy in Khartoum security alert on April 16 said that due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and the closure of airport gates, Americans should not expect the United States to be present. Patel said. “It is imperative that American citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements to stay safe during these difficult circumstances.” However, U.S. officials remain in touch with Americans in Sudan, in some cases helping them connect with their fellow citizens to pool resources and ensure that Americans who remain in Sudan have access to information. security updates in this African country.

Sudan borders seven countries and is located between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Africa’s volatile Sahel region. Violence erupted as an internationally backed transitional plan to form a new civilian government was about to take effect, four years after the fall of Omar-al-Bashir. The government and paramilitary forces accuse each other of hindering the transition. Meanwhile, fighting broke out elsewhere in Sudan. The two factions fighting in Khartoum are also fighting in Darfur, where Doctors Without Borders claims to have treated nearly 300 people. The charity said at least 44 people have died.

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