U.S. evacuates citizens from Sudan conflict

·2 min read
Marwan Ali/AP Photo

A U.S. government convoy carrying hundreds of American citizens arrived at Sudan’s port Saturday, according to the State Department.

The evacuation is part of a larger effort to relocate American citizens in the East African nation amid escalating violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces that has left over 500 dead. It comes less than one week after a special forces operation airlifted 70 U.S. diplomats and embassy employees out of Sudan.

When pressed Friday to confirm reports about the convoy, State Department officials declined to comment, citing operational security. Al-Monitor first reported on the convoy plan.

Eligible U.S. citizens and other evacuees would be assisted to travel from Port Sudan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the State Department said, emphasizing that the U.S. government has been in contact with all American nationals in Sudan who wished to leave.

“We messaged every U.S. citizen in Sudan who communicated with us during the crisis and provided specific instructions about joining this convoy to those who were interested in departing via the land route,” the statement read, before reiterating a warning that U.S. citizens should not travel to Sudan.

A Pentagon statement said the Defense Department "approved a request for assistance from the Department of State to support the safe departure of U.S. citizens and their immediate family members."

"The Department of Defense deployed U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to support air and land evacuation routes, which Americans are using, and we are moving naval assets within the region to provide any necessary support along the coast," the statement added.

Fighting first erupted in Khartoum on April 15 as a power struggle between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, came to a head in their attempt to jointly steer the government. Fighting resumed Saturday despite a ceasefire intended to allow foreign governments to evacuate their citizens, which was set to expire on Sunday night.

As of Friday, an estimated 40,000 refugees fled Khartoum for various refugee camps, according to the UNHCR.

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.