The Biden administration has abandoned Americans in a hostile country once again.
On Saturday, April 22, US forces carried out an extraction operation at the US Embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to evacuate government personnel amidst escalating violence between the army and a paramilitary group. The operation was conducted by the US military and involved fewer than 100 individuals, who were successfully evacuated without encountering any small-arms fire from the warring factions.
Former vice president Joe Biden confirmed the extraction operation in a statement issued Saturday evening, expressing pride in the embassy staff’s courage and professionalism in performing their duties and embodying America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan, despite leaving 16,000 Americans behind once again.
Biden also expressed gratitude for the skill of US service members in successfully evacuating embassy personnel and thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia for their critical assistance in the operation.While government personnel have been evacuated from the embassy, there are currently no government-coordinated evacuation plans for the estimated 16,000 private US citizens registered with the embassy.
The deteriorating situation in the country has raised concerns for their safety, and other nations, including the UK, France, and China, have also begun evacuating their diplomats and nationals.The deteriorating security situation in Sudan has been a cause for concern for some time, with reports of armed clashes and protests leading to casualties and disruption of essential services.
The situation worsened in mid-April when the army and a paramilitary group clashed in Khartoum, resulting in hundreds of casualties and injuries.
The fighting in Sudan began on April 15 and has now entered its second week, further derailing plans to reinstate civilian rule in Sudan after the overthrow of former autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising four years ago. The sudden collapse into warfare in Sudan has dealt a significant setback to efforts towards stability and civilian governance in the country.
According to the World Health Organization, as the violence continues, the death toll has reached 413, with 3,551 people injured since the outbreak of hostilities. Among the casualties are at least five aid workers in a country that heavily relies on food aid to support its population.
The UN has expressed grave concerns about the humanitarian impact of the fighting on the people of Sudan, particularly those who are already vulnerable due to poverty, displacement, and the COVID-19 pandemic.The US State Department confirmed on Thursday, April 20, that an American citizen had died amidst the ongoing conflict in Sudan.
In response, the Pentagon announced that it was repositioning troops in preparation for a potential embassy evacuation. The situation remains fluid, and the US government continues to monitor the situation closely while coordinating with allies and partners to assist Americans in Sudan to the best of their ability.
In his statement, Biden called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian access, and respect for the will of the people of Sudan. He also expressed condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives and reaffirmed the US’s commitment to supporting a peaceful and stable Sudan.
In addition to the escalating civil war in Sudan, the U.S. government is facing criticism for not having any evacuation plans in place for the thousands of American citizens stranded in the country.
Simon Ateba, Chief White House Correspondent at Today news Africa, took to Twitter to express his concern. “Americans stranded in Sudan with no evacuation plans by Joe Biden,” he reported on Twitter. “There are 16,000 Americans registered in Sudan, many others do not register. People contacting me to say their relatives and colleagues and pastors are stranded in Sudan. Saudi Arabia and others have evacuated their citizens while the US has only evacuated government personnel.”
Ateba also highlighted the difficulty in coordinating the evacuation of Americans in Sudan with the U.S. Embassy shut and government personnel already evacuated.
“With the US Embassy shut and government personnel evacuated, it’s difficult to coordinate the evacuation of other Americans stranded in Sudan,” he added. “Many relatives worried as another US embassy shut.”
The U.S. government has faced similar criticism in the past for its handling of evacuations of American citizens in crisis situations. In 2021, as many as 14,000 Americans were left behind in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden ordered a hasty withdrawal. The chaotic evacuation process led to the abandonment of millions of dollars in U.S. military equipment, which came into the possession of the Taliban.