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U.S. military airlifted dozens of American diplomatic staff Saturday night from Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum to nearby Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
President Joe Biden had authorized the evacuation and before midnight he announced its successful operation.
"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," the president said. "I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety."
U.S. officials thanked allies in Djibouti and Saudi Arabia for assisting the evacuation as Khartoum’s airport was damaged by eight days of fighting.
Private U.S. citizens must leave the country on their own, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said, explaining that "it is not currently safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens."
There is an estimated 16,000 Americans in Sudan with dual citizenship.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Japan and the Netherlands are also evacuating their diplomats from Sudan starting Sunday.
The State Department said Friday that one U.S. citizen is among the 400-plus people killed in the armed conflict.
The conflict engulfing Sudan is between Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is Sudan’s military ruler, and Rapid Support Force Commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The two men used to be allies but are now independently vying for control of the third largest country on the African continent.
Both worked together to topple Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and played a pivotal role in the military coup in 2021.
Tensions arose during negotiations to integrate the RSF into the country’s military as part of the plan to restore civilian rule.
It is fight over who leads the new hierarchy.
The RSF paramilitary group declared a ceasefire Thursday that was almost immediately broken. Both sides reportedly declared a new one on Friday for the Muslim holiday of Eid, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“The ruin and destruction and the sound of gunfire have not allowed a space for the joy that our people across our beloved country deserve, and we are deeply saddened by this,” Burhan said in a statement – his first on-camera remarks since the war broke out on April 15.
Most hospitals in Khartoum are non-operable due to heavy shelling. Those still operating are running out of supplies to treat patients.
The number of children dying and and those with injuries "will continue to rise as long as fighting continues” said James Elder, a UNICEF spokesman at a United Nations briefing Friday in Geneva.
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