On April 29, Hua Chunying, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, tweeted an infographic comparing the evacuation efforts organized by China and the U.S. in Sudan, where intense clashes between its military and the country’s main paramilitary force have killed hundreds.
“First vs. last — another difference between China and the US… China has sent 2 Chinese navy vessels which have evacuated 940 Chinese citizens.
The U.S. swiftly airlifted embassy staff out, but has no plan for gov-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens.”
That statement is misleading.
The U.S. airlifted American staffers from the embassy in Khartoum, along with other U.S. government personnel, on April 22, leaving civilians behind. The move has been criticized by families of Americans trapped in Sudan.
Some social media influencers and government figures in China have used White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre's words during an April 18 briefing to accuse the U.S. of abandoning its citizens, Newsweek reported on May 1.
The U.S. State Department has been urging Americans not to travel to Sudan since October 2022, Jean-Pierre said just three days after the fighting broke out in Sudan, adding that, with airports closed, “Americans should have no expectations of a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation at this time... It is imperative that U.S. citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements... to stay safe in these difficult circumstances.”
However, from April 28 to 29, the U.S. carried out the first organized evacuation of its citizens. On Apri 30, the State Department and the Pentagon stated that the mass evacuation of Americans continues, while “intense negotiations” are being held to ensure the safe passage; the U.S. has enlisted its allies in the effort, and a second convoy is being prepared to leave.
The New York Times reported that a convoy of buses carrying some 300 Americans left Sudan’s war-torn capital Khartoum on April 28. From there, they traveled an 800-kilometer journey and reached Port Sudan on April 29.
American unmanned aircraft, which had kept an eye on overland evacuation route, provided armed overwatch for the bus convoy, according to U.S. officials.
Records indicate that there may be as many as 16,000 Americans living in Sudan, most dual U.S.-Sudanese nationals. To date, an estimated 1,000 have left the war-torn country. According to Matthew Miller, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, fewer than 5,000 U.S. citizens have sought guidance from the U.S. government.
At least two American citizens have lost their lives in the conflict.
The U.S. State Department detailed the evacuation effort in a statement published on April 29.
“A U.S. government-organized convoy carrying U.S. citizens, locally employed staff and nationals from allied and partner countries arrived at Port Sudan on April 29. From there, we are assisting U.S. citizens and others who are eligible with onward travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where additional U.S. personnel are positioned to assist with consular and emergency services,” the statement read.
It also pointed out that U.S. officials have messaged every U.S. citizen in Sudan who communicated with them and have provided specific instructions about joining this evacuation effort via the land route.
U.S. officials confirmed on Sunday (April 30) that the USNS Brunswick has arrived in Port Sudan to assist with the evacuation effort.
CNN reported that on April 27, American citizens who had registered with the State Department received an email advising them of the plan for evacuation via land, and that the next day, they were advised to meet between certain hours at a golf course and to bring essentials in one travel bag.
Conflict between rival Sudanese army generals and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have killed more than 500 people and sent thousands fleeing since fighting broke out on April 15.