In an alert issued on Tuesday, the State Department said that it is not safe to undertake a U.S. government–coordinated evacuation of private citizens due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum.
The news of the evacuation has left many Americans behind and alarmed at the prospect of a dangerous situation. Currently, there are an estimated 16,000 Americans in Sudan and the State Department has advised them to remain sheltered in place.
This past weekend, staff within the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum were instructed to halt operations and get out.
“The only way we could do this safely for all of our diplomatic personnel was to rely on the capabilities of our military colleagues,” explained Ambassador John Bass, State Department undersecretary for management.
The U.S. decision to evacuate its staff has come under scrutiny, with questions being raised as to why elite SEAL commandos were used to evacuate embassy staff while thousands of private citizens were left behind.
Several other countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Holland, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have proceeded with evacuations of their nationals. Unfortunately, not all evacuations have been successful; at least two Americans have been killed in Sudan in recent weeks.
The U.S. government has provided information on available border crossings and the requirements needed at each location, but they have also warned that many routes are dangerous and unpredictable due to the ongoing fighting. Germany’s defense ministry has conducted evacuation flights resulting in getting more than 700 people out of Sudan, including 200 Germans and hundreds more from more than 20 other countries. France has evacuated more than 500 people from 41 different countries. The United Kingdom is using its military to evacuate civilians from an airport outside Khartoum. Saudi Arabia has evacuated about 2,150 people by ship from Sudan, including 114 Saudi citizens and more than 2,000 evacuees from 62 other nations. Egypt has evacuated more than 1,500 of its citizens from Sudan.
The power struggle in Sudan mostly focuses on two generals and their armies: Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, who leads the Sudanese National Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces. Despite various ceasefire or truce agreements, many have been broken and gunfire has continued to erupt through the capital.