US: Hundreds of Evacuees Have Reached Port Sudan

Group reportedly met at golf course in Khartoum, took overland route to sea
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
US Reports Evacuating More Than 200 in Sudan
People line up Saturday at a gasoline station in Khartoum, Sudan.   (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

Hundreds of Americans fleeing two weeks of deadly fighting in Sudan reached the east African nation's port Saturday in the first US-run evacuation, completing a dangerous land journey under escort of armed drones, the State Department reported. American unmanned aircraft, which have been keeping an eye on overland evacuation routes for days, provided armed overwatch for a bus convoy carrying 200 to 300 Americans over 500 miles to Port Sudan, a place of relative safety, US officials said, per the AP. The US, which had no officials on the ground for the operation, has been criticized by families of trapped Americans in Sudan for initially ruling out any US-run evacuation for those among an estimated 16,000 Americans in Sudan who wish to leave.

Those who got out Saturday were instructed to meet at a golf course in the capital, a US official said, for a 24-hour journey through rough terrain and armed checkpoints, per the Washington Post. US special operations troops briefly flew to Khartoum on April 22 to airlift out American staffers at the embassy and other government personnel. More than a dozen other nations have already been carrying out evacuations for their citizens, using a mix of military planes, navy vessels, and on-the-ground personnel. A wide-ranging group of international mediators—including African and Arab nations, the United Nations, and the US—has managed to achieve only a series of temporary cease-fires that failed to stop clashes but created enough of a lull for tens of thousands of Sudanese to flee to safer areas and for foreign nations to evacuate thousands of their citizens.

US officials argue that the number of Americans who had indicated they wanted to leave Sudan was relatively small, numbering in the hundreds and said Saturday that they've made the effort. "We messaged every US citizen in Sudan who communicated with us during the crisis and provided specific instructions about joining this convoy to those who were interested in departing via the land route," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Saturday, per the Post. Without the evacuation flights near the capital that other countries have been offering their citizens, many US citizens have been left to make the dangerous overland journey to the Red Sea port. One Sudanese American family described passing through checkpoints staffed by armed men and passing bodies in the street and vehicles of other fleeing families who had been killed along the way. (More Sudan stories.)

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