White House: Situation in Sudan ‘not conducive’ for large-scale military evacuation

White House national security spokesman John Kirby on Monday said the tense situation in Sudan is “not conducive” for large-scale military evacuation of U.S. citizens in the region.

“Well, we have military forces still prepositioned nearby in the region … if they’re needed, but quite frankly, the situation is not conducive and not safe to try to conduct some kind of a larger military evacuation of American citizens. … Actually, the violence is increasing is more dangerous today than it was just yesterday, the day before,” Kirby said in an appearance on “CNN This Morning.”

“And so the best advice we can give to those Americans who did not abide by our warnings to leave Sudan and not to travel to Sudan is to stay sheltered in place, stay safe and secure and off the streets of Khartoum,” Kirby said.

Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of Sudan’s armed forces is battling for power with Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces. The two generals are former allies who together orchestrated an October 2021 military coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to democracy. 

More than 400 people have been killed and more than 3,500 wounded since fighting began earlier this month in the capital city of Khartoum.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the weekend announced the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum was temporarily suspended and that they had “safely evacuated all U.S. personnel and their dependents.” He also said the State Department will continue assisting Americans in Sudan “in planning for their own safety.”

The U.S. embassy in Khartoum has about 70 U.S. staff members, and there are an estimated 16,000 private American citizens registered with the embassy as living in Sudan, though there is reportedly no requirement for Americans to register and no obligation to let the embassy know if they’ve left.

Kirby on Monday said he doesn’t think there was a missed opportunity to get Americans out and stressed “we are doing everything we can to help guide them” to safe passage if they decide to leave.

“I want to push back on this idea that there’s 16,000 Americans who want to get out. We don’t have firm estimates of the exact number of American citizens who are in Sudan,” Kirby said. “We think the vast majority of these American citizens in Sudan … are dual nationals. These are people who grew up in Sudan, who have families there, work there, businesses there, who don’t want to leave.”

Either way, the fighting in Khartoum is “not in a situation where we would want people moving about too freely or too aggressively right now,” Kirby said, stressing that Americans still in Sudan should “stay safe right now.”

Tags Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan Antony Blinken evacuation John Kirby John Kirby Sudan

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