State Department Briefing: We Will Not Be Evacuating American Citizens from Sudan

Violence in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. (Credit: CBS New York)

The State Department held a press briefing Saturday night to describe the chaos in Sudan and our successful efforts to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel from the violence-stricken African country. Under Secretary for Management Ambassador John Bass reported that all operations at the embassy in the country’s capital, Khartoum, have been halted for the time being:


As of today, April 22nd, as a result of the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the United States has temporarily suspended operations – and I want to stress “temporarily” – suspended operations at our embassy in Khartoum.

The widespread fighting, as you know, has caused significant civilian deaths and injuries.  There’s been substantial damage to essential infrastructure, including, importantly, the civilian airport in the heart of the city.

And so as a result of the intensity of the conflict and the challenges that our diplomatic personnel were experiencing in conducting basic operations and the uncertainty about their – the availability of key supplies like fuel and food going forward, we reluctantly decided it was time to suspend operations; and with tremendous support from our professional military colleagues at DOD, we evacuated all of the U.S. personnel and dependents assigned to Embassy Khartoum there under the responsibility of the Secretary of State.

Fighting between the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudan’s armed forces broke out on April 15. Although rumors have claimed that our military received cooperation from the RSF, Bass shot that down:

And I want to emphasize this operation was conducted by the Department of Defense, and only by the Department of Defense.  You may have seen some assertions in social media in recent hours that the Rapid Security Forces somehow coordinated with us and supported this operation.  That was not the case.

They cooperated to the extent that they did not fire on our service members in the course of the operation.  I would submit that’s as much in their self-interest as anything else.


Although embassy staff has been evacuated, others aren’t so lucky:

We don’t anticipate those security conditions are going to change in the near term, even though we’re going to continue to do everything we can to bring this fighting to a conclusion.

But as a result of that uncertain security picture, as a result of the unavailability of the civilian airport, we don’t foresee coordinating a U.S. Government evacuation for our fellow citizens in Sudan at this time or in the coming days.

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Molly Phee spoke next, saying that there’s still hope for an end to the fighting:

The Secretary wants me to share with you the following:  The Sudanese people are not giving up, and neither will we.

The goal is to bring an end to this fighting and a start to civilian government.  At the direction of the Secretary, we are in close contact with Sudan’s military and civilian leaders to see if we can help them identify a path to extend and expand the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire to reach a sustainable cessation of hostilities that includes humanitarian arrangements.


CBS New York describes the efforts of other countries to get their diplomats out, as well as the declining conditions in Khartoum hospitals as the crisis continues:

As our Becca Lower reported, President Biden weighed in on the situation Saturday evening, saying the U.S. is attempting to assist American citizens trapped in the area:

I am receiving regular reports from my team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible.  We are also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort.

We should do everything in our power to get them out.


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