Washington has launched its first coordinated effort to transport Americans out of the conflict-torn country
President Joe Biden’s administration has begun its first mass evacuations of American citizens from Sudan after more than a week advising them to shelter in place amid fighting between warring factions vying for control of the African nation from the east.
A convoy of vehicles organized by the United States carrying American citizens, local employees and people from allied countries managed to reach Port Sudan on Saturday, according to a statement from the State Department in Washington. From there, they can cross the Red Sea to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The move comes a week after US Navy Seals evacuated US embassy workers from Khartoum and days after other countries began ferrying their citizens out of the war-torn country.
The State Department did not say how many of the roughly 16,000 American civilians living in Sudan were brought in Saturday’s convoy. The media pegged the group size at “hundreds”. Other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, are said to end their evacuations after evacuating thousands of their citizens from Sudan in recent days.
The White House has warned that time is running out in Sudan as violence between the country’s military and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces could escalate at any time. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Thursday that Americans who wanted to leave Sudan should “take advantage of the options available to them in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
US military forces have deployed surveillance and intelligence assets to support evacuation routes, while US Navy vessels are now stationed off the Sudanese coast to provide any necessary assistance. “Our goal has been and remains to help as many American citizens leave safely as possible,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said in a statement Saturday.
The Biden administration has previously asserted that large-scale evacuations of civilians are not possible, even though other countries have done so. The State Department said it helped facilitate the evacuations of some Americans by allied countries in recent days.
The administration’s handling of those crises has come under increased scrutiny following its chaotic August 2021 evacuation from Afghanistan, which left hundreds dead and thousands of Americans stranded.
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