US evacuates embassy in Sudan, Biden urges end to ‘tragic’ violence
(Update: recasts, new headline & lede, edits throughout)
Washington, Apr 23 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden announced Saturday that he had ordered the evacuation of government personnel from Sudan and has temporarily suspended embassy operations in the country.
In a statement released by the White House, Biden said that Ethiopia, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia had been “critical” in helping to successfully evacuate the US diplomatic staff.
He also said that he was receiving “regular” updates on ongoing work to provide assistance to American citizens in Sudan, “to the extent possible.”
Biden added in his statement that while embassy operations in Sudan were temporarily suspended, the US commitment “to the Sudanese people and the future they want for themselves is unending.”
The US president said “the tragic violence” was “unconscionable and it must stop,” as he called on the warring parties to implement an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan.”
In a separate statement, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said that while suspending operations at an embassy is “always a difficult decision,” it was necessary “due to the serious and growing security risks created by the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.”
On Saturday, the US embassy in Khartoum had said that due to the dire security situation in the capital and the closure of the international airport, it was not safe to carry out an evacuation, despite the fact that the Sudanese army had said shortly before that the Americans were going to proceed with the repatriation in a matter of “hours.”
Several countries, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and France, were either poised to begin or were already evacuating their citizens on Sunday, with many of the operations being coordinated from Djibouti.
A French citizen was wounded when a French embassy convoy was attacked during evacuation procedures, with both the Sudanese army and the RSF accusing each other of being behind the attack.
French authorities have not commented on the incident yet, and it was unclear whether the victim had been transferred to hospital or how serious his injuries were.
China has also started organizing evacuations of its citizens, posting a form on their embassy website for people who want to be extracted and urging them in a message to ensure their personal safety and remain on high alert.
With the security situation continuing to deteriorate in Sudan, internet access has suffered a “near-total total collapse” with “national connectivity now at 2% of ordinary levels,” said NetBlocks, a platform that monitors user connectivity and online censorship.
The fighting that began on Apr. 15 between the Sudanese Army and the RSF paramilitary group arose after weeks of tension over the reform of the security forces in negotiations to form a new transitional government.
Both forces were behind the coup that overthrew the transitional government of Sudan in October 2021.
Since the outbreak of violence last Saturday, at least 413 people – mostly civilians – have died and 3,551 have been injured in Sudan, according to the World Health Organization. EFE