After the closure of the United States Embassy in Sudan and evacuation of its American personnel in the ongoing civil conflict between the Sudanese Army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group under General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, there are concerns for up to 16,000 Americans remaining in the country who have no way to get out.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told “CBS Morning” and other media outlets that because of the ongoing violence in Sudan, with hundreds of people dead, it is unsafe to conduct another coordinated evacuation for the remaining citizens in the war-torn nation.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help guide people, get them the information they need to get out safely,” Kirby said. “But it is not safe right now for another evacuation attempt. That would actually put Americans in more danger, not less.”
On CNN’s “This Morning,” Kirby was pushed on the number of Americans stranded being at around 16,000, to which Kirby fired back stating that the State Department “does not have firm estimates of the exact number of American citizens that are in Sudan” and also making the argument that not all of them want to leave.
Kirby then told reporters in Washington that American citizens in Sudan must “make their own arrangements to stay safe in these difficult circumstances. Americans should have no expectation of a U.S. government coordinated evacuation at this time. And we expect that that is going to remain the case.”
“The safest thing for many Americans in Sudan to do, who did not get out when they were warned to get out, is to stay safe right now and see if the situation can improve,” he said.
“Our current Travel Advisory for Sudan is Level 4 due to armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. U.S. citizens in need of assistance in Sudan should fill out our crisis intake form. The ongoing hostilities in Khartoum and closure of the airport do not allow for a U.S. government coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens. Khartoum International Airport and Sudan’s border with Chad are currently closed,” a State Dept. spokesperson told The Foreign Desk.
The State Dept. referred further questions to its weekend special briefing. When a question came up regarding how the State Dept. is supporting American citizens in the war-torn nation to leave safely and not face harm in the crossfire, State Dept. under secretary for management ambassador John Bass stated that the agency is “only aware of the death of one American private citizen who has been killed in crossfire in the fighting.”
The Under Secretary explained that the environment is “challenging” but that officials are engaging citizens stranded in Sudan with tools from the consular team in Washington. Bass outlined that the State Dept. is helping stranded American citizens find other American citizens in Sudan or support from individuals willing to help.
“If somebody’s got a need, but they do not have a vehicle, somebody else may have a vehicle and an extra seat. Doing some of that matching up for people they are not otherwise able to do themselves is part of what we are about,” Bass told reporters.
The Under Secretary said that the U.S. is working closely with countries to help notify when American citizens are moving, urging them to be on alert and “support them if they find them in proximity to overland convoys they might be organizing.”
Once American civilians have departed Khartoum and arrived in Port Sudan, Bass explained that the U.S. government and other countries are working closely to help enable their onward journey from there to wherever they may be trying to get outside Sudan.”
On Twitter, Simon Ateba, Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa, posted that he received messages from American citizens whose relatives, colleagues, and pastors were stranded in Sudan, noting that countries like Saudi Arabia have evacuated their citizens.
In an earlier tweet, Ateba posted a screenshot of what the Department of State told Americans trapped in Sudan before U.S. embassy personnel evacuated. The message stated that the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum would not be able to provide regular services.
“Due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and the closure of the airport, there are no plans for the U.S. government-coordinated evacuation. We have registered your interest for further communications and will continue to update you about the security situation as it develops,” the State Dept. said. The message also recommended actions for stranded Americans to take, including remaining sheltered in place.
In response to the Biden administration’s failure to act, many are criticizing the measures and comparing them to when the administration left behind hundreds of American citizens and military equipment following the failed 2021 Afghanistan pullout.