The Sudanese military declared on Saturday that it is working to evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats from Sudan, as the country’s violent conflict enters its second week. General Abdel Fattah Burhan, the army chief, has pledged to aid the evacuation of American, British, Chinese, and French nationals and diplomats after discussing the matter with leaders from several nations seeking assistance.
The evacuation process has been complicated by the closure of major airports and the hazardous situation in the capital, Khartoum. Despite the challenges, the Sudanese military has committed to providing the necessary support to ensure the safety of evacuees from various countries.
As fighting continues between the Sudanese army, led by Burhan, and a powerful paramilitary group in and around Khartoum, foreign governments have struggled to bring their citizens home. Many are trapped in their residences, with limited access to food and resources.
The White House has not confirmed the announcement by the Sudanese military. On Friday, the U.S. stated that it had no plans for a government-led evacuation of the approximately 16,000 American citizens trapped in Sudan. However, Saudi Arabia has successfully repatriated some of its nationals, who were welcomed with flowers and chocolates upon their arrival in the Saudi port of Jeddah.
Officials have not provided details on how the evacuation process was carried out, but General Burhan mentioned that Saudi diplomats and nationals first traveled by land to Port Sudan, the country’s primary seaport on the Red Sea. Jordanian diplomats are expected to be evacuated in a similar manner. Port Sudan is located about 840 kilometers (520 miles) east of Khartoum.
The U.S. Embassy in Sudan issued a security alert, warning of the dangerous situation and stressing that traveling in any convoy is at one’s own risk. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is deploying additional troops and equipment to a naval base in Djibouti to prepare for evacuation efforts.
General Burhan acknowledged the international community’s concerns and the deteriorating living conditions. He assured that Sudan would provide necessary airports and safe passageways for foreigners caught in the conflict, though he did not offer specifics.
Despite cease-fire attempts, the violence continues, jeopardizing Sudan’s transition to a civilian-led democracy and raising concerns about potential involvement from neighboring countries like Chad, Egypt, and Libya. The ongoing clashes have already claimed over 400 lives, according to the World Health Organization, and have severely impacted civilian infrastructure, including hospitals.
The current crisis in Sudan stems from a disagreement between General Burhan and the chief of the paramilitary group, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, over a recent internationally brokered deal aimed at incorporating the paramilitary group into the military and eventually transitioning to civilian rule. As foreign citizens attempt to leave the country, many Sudanese fear that the violence will only escalate, with both sides of the conflict showing more concern for foreign lives than those of Sudanese citizens.
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