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Biden calls Sudan civil war ‘unconscionable’ as evacuation of US embassy personnel completed

Biden calls for end to ‘unconscionable’ violence

Rituparna Chatterjee
Sunday 23 April 2023 13:13 BST
Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday after the ceasefire between the Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces failed (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday after the ceasefire between the Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces failed (AP Photo/Marwan Ali) (AP)

All US government personnel were evacuated from Washington’s embassy in Khartoum, as well as a small number of diplomatic personnel from other countries, US officials said on Saturday.

The operation evacuated fewer than 100 people, the officials told reporters.

“We evacuated all of the US personnel and dependents assigned to embassy Khartoum,” said under secretary of state for management John Bass.

President Joe Biden said earlier that the US military had completed the evacuation of American embassy personnel in Sudan.

He called for an end to the “unconscionable” violence in the war-torn country and thanked the US troops who extracted the trapped American staffers as Washington shuttered its mission in Khartoum indefinitely.

The staffers were airlifted to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia, according to two US officials familiar with the mission. US troops carried out the operation as fighting between two armed Sudanese commanders – which has killed more than 400, put the nation at risk of collapse, and could have consequences far beyond its borders – moved into a second week.

“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,” Mr Biden said in a statement. “I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety.”

He also thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia for their help with the mission. Mr Biden ordered American troops to evacuate embassy personnel after receiving a recommendation earlier on Saturday from his national security team with no end in sight to the fighting.

“This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It’s unconscionable and it must stop,” he said. “The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan.”

Many are still trapped in the country. The State Department suspended operations at the embassy due to the dire security situation. It was not clear when the embassy might resume functioning.

“The widespread fighting has caused significant numbers of civilian deaths and injuries and damage to essential infrastructure and posed an unacceptable risk to our embassy personnel,” secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement. The fighting erupted on 15 April between two factions whose leaders are vying for control over the country.

The violence included an unprovoked attack on an American diplomatic convoy and numerous incidents in which foreign diplomats and aid workers were killed, injured or assaulted.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan said he would facilitate the evacuation of American, British, Chinese and French citizens and diplomats from Sudan after speaking with the leaders of several countries that had requested help. The rival Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, in a Twitter posting said it cooperated with US forces.

Saudi Arabia announced the successful repatriation of some of its citizens on Saturday, sharing footage of Saudi nationals and other foreigners welcomed with chocolate and flowers as they stepped off an apparent evacuation ship at the Saudi port of Jeddah.

The RSF, which has been battling the Sudanese army, said the US rescue mission involved six aircraft. The RSF, led by Gen Mohammed Hamad Dagolo, said it is cooperating with all diplomatic missions and that it is committed to a three-day cease-fire that was declared at sundown Friday.

Most major airports have become battlegrounds and movement out of the capital has proven intensely dangerous. The two rivals have dug in, signaling they would resume the fighting after the declared three-day truce.

Questions have swirled over how the mass rescues of foreign citizens would unfold, with Sudan’s main international airport closed and millions of people sheltering indoors.

Additional reporting from agencies

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