By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KHARTOUM (Worthy News) – Millions, including already persecuted Christians and at least 16,000 Americans, remained trapped in wartorn Sudan on Sunday after American special forces evacuated the U.S. embassy.
U.S. President Joe Biden late Saturday confirmed an operation in which roughly 70 American staffers were airlifted from a landing zone at the embassy.
American officials familiar with the rescue said they were moved to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia after three Chinook helicopters landed near the embassy to collect them.
Biden said he received regular reports from his team on efforts to assist those remaining 16,000 Americans in Sudan “to the extent possible.”
The embassy clarified earlier Saturday that it was too dangerous to rescue them in a government-coordinated effort after even a diplomatic convoy and aid workers were attacked earlier in the week.
However, “I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan,” Biden stressed in a statement. “I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety.”
The U.S. embassy in Khartoum is now closed. On the social media platform Twitter, the embassy warned that it could not provide consular services for American citizens in Sudan.
Yet other countries were also attempting to rescue their citizens and others at risk: Saudi Arabia announced the successful repatriation of some of its citizens on Saturday.
Its footage showed Saudi nationals and other foreigners welcomed with chocolate and flowers as they stepped off an apparent evacuation ship at the Saudi port of Jeddah.
Among those arriving Saturday were more than 150 citizens, diplomats, and international officials, primarily citizens of Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, Pakistan, and Canada, officials said.
They left behind a nation in turmoil
where over 400 people have been killed, and millions more were hiding Sunday from fighting forces and looters.
Heavy clashes began in Khartoum, the capital, on April 15 amid a power struggle between forces loyal to regular Sudanese army chief Abdel Fatteh al-Burhan and the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The near-constant shooting and bombings in Khartoum and elsewhere cut electricity and safe access to food and water for much of the population, several sources said.
Several ceasefires that both sides had seemingly agreed on recently were violated, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started Friday.
Among those suffering are minority Christians who already faced severe persecution in the Muslim northeastern African nation, Christian aid workers and other sources say.
“Although the death penalty for leaving Islam has now been abolished, there are fears that this punishment could be reinstated,” said the Christian advocacy group Open Doors.
“The government hasn’t put real protections in place for Christians and other religious minorities.”
It noted that since “the military coup, four churches have been forced to close.”
Yet, “even with the change in official status, confiscated churches and lands have yet to be returned to their Christian owners. Trying to build new churches is still extremely difficult,” Open Doors explained in a recent assessment.
Pressure on Christians reportedly continued under Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who took power after the military coup in April 2019.
He took over the nation of 48 million following months of protests against Omar al-Bashir’s government and his perceived authoritarian rule.
A military and civilian Sovereign Council was to jointly rule Sudan and prepare the country for national elections and a return to civilian rule.
However, the military dismissed the civilian ministers in a coup in October 2021 and later restored Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok following a month of protests.
Country-wide protests against Hamdok’s cooperation with the military forced him to step down permanently in 2022.
Al-Burhan has since pledged to establish a technocratic government after dismissing the five civilian members of the council.
But he was accused of involvement in atrocities during military operations against non-Arab civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region in 2003 when he led ground forces there.
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