Sudan in turmoil as US, UK and France pull out their diplomats amid deadly clashes.
The situation in Sudan has worsened as the U.S. and France have decided to evacuate their embassy staff from the country, where rival military factions have been fighting for more than a week, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands more in need of humanitarian aid.
President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. was temporarily halting its operations at its embassy in Khartoum, but said he remained committed to supporting the Sudanese people. He urged the warring parties to stop the violence, allow humanitarian access, and respect the will of the Sudanese people.
France’s Foreign Ministry also said it was withdrawing its diplomatic staff and citizens from Sudan due to the security risks. However, both countries faced difficulties in their evacuation efforts.
Both the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group blamed each other for attacking a convoy of French nationals, saying one of them was injured. The army also accused the RSF of assaulting and looting a Qatari convoy on its way to Port Sudan. Egypt reported that one of its diplomats in Sudan was shot.
The conflict started in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan on April 15, four years after a popular uprising ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. It involves Sudan’s army and the RSF, who jointly carried out a coup in 2021 but later disagreed over a plan to form a civilian government and integrate the RSF into the armed forces.
The army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, have ignored ceasefires agreed almost daily, including a three-day truce for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.
The fighting has intensified around the army’s headquarters in central Khartoum and the airport, which has been shut down by the clashes, and over the last two days in Bahri, where the army has used ground troops and air strikes to try to repel the RSF.
The RSF said on Sunday that its forces were hit by air strikes in Bahri’s Kafouri district and that dozens were “killed and injured” .
Live TV feeds showed thick smoke still covering the capital, Khartoum, and its sister cities of Bahri and Omdurman, as gunfire continued to echo in some areas.
Many residents have been stuck in their homes without food, water or electricity. Some have tried to escape the city but faced roadblocks and checkpoints. Others have sought shelter in mosques or schools.
The United Nations said it was deeply worried about the impact of the fighting on civilians and called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights.
The African Union and regional powers have also called for an end to hostilities and a return to dialogue. However, there has been little sign of progress towards resolving the conflict that threatens to plunge Sudan into further chaos and instability.