ANKARA, April 23 — The US has evacuated embassy staff and their families from Sudan’s capital Khartoum, where ongoing clashes between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have claimed hundreds of lives.
“On my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” Anadolu Agency reported President Joe Biden said in a statement on Sunday.
The RSF confirmed in a tweet that it had coordinated with a US military mission consisting of six aircraft ‘for evacuating diplomats and their families on Sunday morning’.
Biden thanked American diplomats and troops for their efforts in Sudan, and said he was ‘receiving regular reports … on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible’.
“This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It is unconscionable and it must stop.
“The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan,” he said.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has ‘temporarily suspended’ operations at its embassy in Khartoum.
American forces ‘safely evacuated all US personnel and their dependents under our security responsibility,’ he said.
“Suspending operations at one of our embassies is always a difficult decision, but the safety of our personnel is my first responsibility,” Blinken said.
The decision was taken ‘due to the serious and growing security risks’, according to the report.
“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.
“We will continue to assist Americans in Sudan in planning for their own safety and provide regular updates to US citizens in the area. We will also continue to coordinate with our allies and partners as well as our local partners on efforts to ensure the safety of their personnel,” said Blinken.
On Saturday (April 22), a 72-hour truce agreed by the Sudanese army and RSF fell through, with fighting erupting in Khartoum and several other areas, including the nearby cities of Bahri and Omdurman.
Blinken urged both sides to ‘urgently extend and expand the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire to a sustainable cessation of hostilities to prevent further damage to the Sudanese nation’.
“We remind both belligerents of their obligations under international humanitarian law, including obligations related to the protection of civilians,” he said.
Now in the second week, the deadly power struggle between the Sudanese army and the RSF has killed more than 400 people, with over 3,500 others injured, according to UN figures.