U.S. military aircraft airlifted dozens of American diplomatic staff Saturday night from the war-torn capital of Sudan, a daring evacuation authorized by President Joe Biden as security worsened in Khartoum after a week of fighting.
Biden announced shortly before midnight that the operation had successfully removed all U.S. Embassy staff to nearby Djibouti as fighting raged between rival military leaders in Sudan.
“I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan,” the president said. “I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety.”
U.S. officials thanked allies in Djibouti and Saudi Arabia for assisting the evacuation under difficult circumstances as Khartoum’s airport was badly damaged by eight days of fighting.
The rescue operation capped a confusing day on the ground in Sudan, Africa’s third largest country, as Sudan’s military chief vowed to help relocate foreign nationals, but the Pentagon worried the situation was too volatile.
Private U.S. citizens must leave the country on their own, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said, explaining that “it is not currently safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens.”
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Japan and the Netherlands are also evacuating their diplomats from Sudan starting Sunday.