(Khartoum) The United States announced that it had evacuated its embassy in Sudan on Sunday, where deadly fighting between the regular army and paramilitaries has been raging for more than a week.
“Today, at my request, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” President Joe Biden said in a statement released late Saturday evening.
“This tragic violence in Sudan has already claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. This is insane and it must stop,” he added.
Embassy operations are “temporarily suspended,” the State Department announced.
Earlier, the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are fighting against the Sudanese regular army, had claimed to have “coordinated” with the United States the evacuation on Sunday of American diplomats and their families aboard six planes.
After a relative lull the previous night, fighting resumed on Saturday in Khartoum, largely without electricity and running water. The internet was virtually inoperative across the country, according to the NetBlocks organization, which monitors web access around the world. Strong explosions shook the capital on Saturday during the day and exchanges of fire were heard in different neighborhoods, according to testimonies reported to AFP.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia announced that it had evacuated more than 150 people from Sudan to the port of Jeddah.
The evacuation was carried out by the Kingdom’s naval forces with the support of other branches of the military, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement, announcing the “safe arrival” of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries.
These include Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Canada and Burkina Faso, according to the press release.
“Diplomats and international officials” were among those rescued, according to the same source.
German defense and foreign ministers said they held a crisis meeting on Saturday to discuss the feasibility of an evacuation, after three military planes were forced to turn back on Wednesday, German magazine Der Spiegel reported. .
For several days, the United States, South Korea and Japan have deployed forces in neighboring countries, and the European Union is considering taking similar measures to evacuate their diplomats and nationals from Sudan.
The FSRs also “affirmed their full cooperation with all diplomatic missions, providing all necessary means of protection and ensuring their safe return to their countries”.
Violence erupted there on April 15 between the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, de facto ruler of Sudan since the 2021 putsch, and his deputy turned rival, General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, who commands the Rapid Support Forces. (FSR), feared paramilitaries.
On Friday, the army announced that it had “agreed to a three-day ceasefire” for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Muslim fasting.
But the army and the FSR did not respect their commitments to take a break. The still very provisional toll stands at 420 dead and 3,700 injured, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While the two sides are also engaged in a communication battle, it is impossible to know who controls the country’s airports and what state they are in after being the scene of heavy fighting since the first day of the conflict.
The two generals who took power in the 2021 coup are now engaged in a merciless struggle. They were unable to agree on the integration of General Daglo’s paramilitaries into General Burhane’s regular troops, after weeks of political negotiations under international auspices.
In Khartoum, a city of five million people, many civilians have ventured outside just to get emergency food or to flee the city.
The end of the fasting month of Ramadan is usually celebrated ‘with pastries and gifts for the children’, but this year it’s ‘gunshots and the smell of death’, laments AFP Sami al-Nour, a resident of Khartoum.
Living conditions are probably worse in Darfur, where no one can go immediately. On site, a doctor from Médecins sans frontières (MSF) evokes a “catastrophic situation”.
In Sudan, Africa’s third-largest gold producer yet one of the world’s poorest countries, health services have been on their knees for decades and a third of its 45 million people go hungry.
The cessation of operations by most humanitarian workers, after the death of at least four of them over the past week, will worsen the situation. And the conflict now threatens to gain ground beyond Sudan’s borders, experts say.