As the bloody conflict in Sudan enters its second week, American embassy personnel were evacuated from Khartoum by the US military, President Joe Biden announced on Sunday. The ongoing battle between the Sudanese army and a powerful paramilitary group has resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and widespread shortages of electricity and food for survivors.
The president thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia for their assistance in the operation, which he ordered personally. Biden lauded the exceptional abilities of the US service members who carried out the evacuation. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary group currently contesting the authority of Sudan’s regular army, had earlier tweeted that it coordinated with the US Forces Mission for the evacuation of diplomats and their families.
As the situation in Sudan deteriorates, other nations are preparing for the potential evacuation of their citizens. Despite the closure of the main airport, over 150 people from various countries had already been safely evacuated to Saudi Arabia. After a short-lived truce during the first day of Eid al-Fitr, fighting resumed in Khartoum, with the typically festive holiday marred by fear, grief, and hunger.
The Sudanese army has received calls from international leaders requesting assistance in evacuating their citizens and diplomatic missions. The US, Britain, France, and China are among the countries planning to airlift their nationals out of Khartoum using military aircraft.
Urban warfare erupted on April 15 between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and those of his deputy and rival, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the RSF. Despite several ceasefires announced throughout the week, heavy gunfire, explosions, and fighter jets were heard in many parts of the capital, leaving terrified civilians seeking shelter.
The violence has not been limited to the capital. Battles have raged in Darfur, where medical personnel from Doctors Without Borders have been overwhelmed by the number of patients suffering from gunshot wounds. Other nations, including South Korea, Japan, and members of the European Union, are considering deploying forces to evacuate their citizens.
The World Health Organization reports that over 420 people have been killed and more than 3,700 wounded across Sudan, although the actual death toll is believed to be higher. The majority of hospitals in Khartoum and neighboring states are now inoperable, and the World Food Programme warns that the violence could plunge millions more into hunger.
The conflict between Burhan and Dagalo centers on the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army, a crucial condition for a deal aimed at restoring Sudan’s democratic transition following the military’s removal of former leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.