Mass Evacuation Of Americans In Sudan Underway

(Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Several hundred American civilians were evacuated by bus convoy from Sudan beginning Friday, the first U.S. government-facilitated evacuation since the north African nation descended into civil war earlier this month.

Between two and three hundred American citizens and permanent residents were bused more than 500 miles to Port Sudan and then the Red Sea beginning Friday, Biden administration officials said Saturday. Unmanned aircraft oversaw the travel of the convoy through the war-torn country, where two Americans have already died.

One week earlier, U.S. Embassy staff were evacuated from Khartoum by U.S. special forces, but the Biden administration had repeatedly stated there were no plans to evacuate ordinary citizens from the country. Officials said it was too dangerous for such an operation to be carried out, and stressed it was not normal procedure for the government to evacuate civilians from conflict zones.

However, as the Biden administration stood on the sidelines, other countries, from Germany to the U.K. to France to Japan, were able to airlift dozens or hundreds of civilians out of Sudan before Friday. Some of those evacuations even included Americans who were left by their own government.

The U.S. had estimated around 16,000 Americans may be in the country, although that number is considered outdated by many officials and the true number is likely lower. Many of those are also dual-nationals with roots in Sudan who aren’t necessarily looking to leave. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week at least dozens of Americans had been in contact with the administration seeking assistance getting out. (RELATED: ‘Gross Violation’: EU Ambassador To Sudan Assaulted In His Home Amid Fighting Between Rival Forces)

Fighting broke out earlier this month in Sudan after a power-sharing agreement between two rival generals broke down. The U.S. and other mediators have encouraged  a series of ceasefires, none of which have held, but which have reduced fighting for certain periods of time. More than 500 people have already been killed in the conflict, including two Americans.