A convoy of hundreds of Americans has arrived in a port city in eastern Sudan, the State Department said, in the first evacuation effort by American citizens since deadly fighting broke out in the country two years ago. last week.
The bus carrying 300 people arrived at the port of Sudan on Saturday after leaving the capital Khartoum late on Friday.
The mostly-American group – along with some Germans, Norwegians and local staff – were loaded onto seven US-contracted buses and monitored by armed drones on the flight. process, a Pentagon official told NPR. The US government has contracted a total of 16 buses and will use the remaining buses if a second convoy is needed.
Conflict between rival generals from the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force have kill more than 500 people and wounded more than 4,000 others since fighting broke out on April 15. Bombs and gunfights have rocked Khartoum, devastating buildings in residential areas.
According to a Pentagon official, RSF assisted the convoy with three vehicles to help get the bus through the checkpoints safely.
Some 16,000 Americans was registered in Sudan before the convoy departed. Families of Americans stranded in Sudan have criticized the United States for initially ruling out the possibility of a US-run evacuation, AP news agency reported.
The United States is one of a number of countries that have closed their embassies and evacuate employees and their families.
From the port of Sudan, Americans can pass through the Red Sea to a port in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“The US government has made every effort to contact US citizens in Sudan and allow those who wish to leave,” the statement read. “We messaged every US citizen in Sudan who contacted us during the crisis and provided specific instructions on joining this convoy for those wishing to depart by land. We encourage US citizens who wish to leave Sudan but have opted out of this convoy to contact the State Department using the crisis reception form on our website.”
The United States repeated its warning against Americans not to travel to Sudan.
NPR’s Michele Kelemen contributed reporting.