Skip to content

Evacuees from Sudan arrive in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, onboard a Saudi vessel on 30 April 2023. Heavy fighting again rocked Sudan's capital as tens of thousands have fled the bloody turmoil and a former prime minister warned of the "nightmare" risk of a descent into full-scale civil war. Foreign nations have scrambled to evacuate thousands of their citizens by air, road, and sea since the fighting plunged the poverty-stricken country into deadly turmoil on 15 April. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

By Land, Sea, and Air, Private Citizens Seek Evacuation from Sudan

Foreign governments are rushing to get diplomats and other citizens out of Sudan amid fears that the civil conflict in the northeastern African nation could escalate even further.

Some countries have deployed military transport aircraft to transport people out of the country, but others are relying on naval evacuations or land evacuations. While the United States originally told around 16,000 U.S. citizens in Sudan that there would not be government-organized mass evacuations, it is now coordinating the land and sea departure of private U.S. citizens who want to leave the country.

“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,” according to a statement from the U.S. State Department. “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. This builds on the work the U.S. government has done this week to facilitate the departure of our diplomats by military assisted departure, and hundreds of other U.S. citizens by land convoys, flights on partner air craft, and sea. Hundreds of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents have departed Sudan through these options facilitated by the U.S. government.”

So far, the State Department and its allies have helped 1,000 U.S. citizens depart the country since the start of the violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which heavily affected the capital city of Khartoum. More than 500 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured since fighting broke out on 15 April, the BBC reported.

The bus convoys out of Khartoum were monitored by armed drones along the 500-mile route. Rapid Support Forces vehicles accompanied the convoy to help get the buses through checkpoints, according to NPR. Once evacuees get to Port Sudan—either as part of an organized convoy or on their own—they can be shuttled across the Red Sea to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where more U.S. personnel can help with consular and emergency services. The Pentagon deployed intelligence and surveillance support for the evacuation, and the U.S. Navy is moving assets within the region to provide support along the coast.

More than a dozen other nations have been carrying out evacuations already, using a mix of military planes, navy vessels, and ground personnel, the Associated Press reported. France evacuated hundreds of people to Djibouti, and 1,200 British soldiers helped evacuated 30 UK diplomatic staff and their families out of Sudan. Turkey is evacuating hundreds of its citizens by land to Ethiopia, where they will fly out to Istanbul.

For more about planning for mass evacuations, including what to expect from a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation, see Security Management’s collection of articles on this topic here.