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Biden White House refuses to evacuate 16,000 US citizens from Sudan

By Sarah May
|
April 29, 2023

Amid escalating violence in Sudan that has resulted in hundreds of fatalities, the Biden administration has remained reluctant to assist an estimated 16,000 stranded Americans – many of whom are wishing to leave the country – and is leaving thousands in terrifying circumstances and scrambling for a way out of the country, as the Daily Mail reports.

Violence in the African country broke out earlier this month when tensions between two rival generals reached a breaking point and exit opportunities have become scarce -- not to mention dangerous -- for those who remain.

Americans Stranded in Sudan

Despite the hope of Americans in Sudan that the United States government would come to their aid and facilitate evacuations, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Monday that such assistance would not be forthcoming, as CBS News reported.

Despite the U.S. military having already evacuated American government staffers from the embassy in Khartoum, Kirby did not pledge the same help for others hoping to leave the country.

“We're going to do everything we can to help guide people, get them the information they need to get out safely,” Kirby began.

He continued, “But it is not safe right now for another evacuation attempt. That would actually put Americans in more danger, not less,” and he urged those unable to find their own way out of Sudan to shelter in place.

Assistance from Afar

As the Mail noted, though the U.S. government did not offer air evacuation assistance, officials did subsequently say that help from afar might be available to Americans willing to attempt an escape by land.

That position was blasted by a number of former government officials, including an Obama-era diplomat who was involved in the 2004 evacuation of Americans from the Ivory Coast.

Bret Bruen labeled the Biden administration's offer “unrealistic, dangerous, and deeply irresponsible.”

“This is not the way the United States behaved when I served overseas,” Bruen stated, adding that in his view, “the abandonment of Americans in Sudan is part of a problematic pattern of the Biden White House.”

“We Need to Help Them”

Emblematic of the many Americans stranded in Sudan are two dual citizens from Bluffton, South Carolina, who have been living and working in the country for humanitarian reasons and have thus far been unable to manage an escape from the unrest as CBS affiliate WTOC reports.

Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka is lobbying lawmakers from her state to push for the deployment of greater resources to facilitate evacuations for those who want them, including the pair from her community, whose identities are being kept quiet for their personal safety.

Sulka described the couple as “close family friends, they both have had an influence in my children's lives, they've had an influence in a lot of people's lives in Bluffton,” adding, “we need to help them.”

Though the last update from the duo indicated that while they were in a safe location, they lost Wi-Fi service and are therefore facing communication challenges with those who might be able to help them find a path out of the country.

Movement Afoot

Perhaps due to criticism at the lack of action on the part of the administration, Saturday saw the first U.S.-run evacuation take place, with hundreds of fleeing Americans making their way to Port Sudan to what was described as “relative safety,” by the Associated Press.

The AP explained that unmanned American aircraft monitored overland evacuation pathways and offered armed overwatch for convoys carrying upwards of 300 U.S. nationals across roughly 500 miles.

American personnel were not on the ground for the evacuation mission, and without flights available to those hoping to leave the violence, dual citizens have chronicled the harrowing overland trip to Port Sudan that has included encounters with armed checkpoints, abandoned vehicles, and bodies littering the street.

Whether Saturday's evacuation mission is the start of additional operations to hasten the movement of Americans out of Sudan, or if the administration will adhere to its largely hands-off approach to the situation, only time will tell.