The head of the Sudanese Army said on Saturday that citizens of the United States and a few other countries would be evacuated “in the coming hours” as the fighting between two clashing military factions entered its second week.
The army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is the country’s de facto leader, said in a statement that his troops would also facilitate the evacuation of diplomats and citizens from Britain, China and France, although it remained unclear how and when the departures would be organized. The claims could not be immediately confirmed. A spokeswoman for France’s Foreign Ministry said she could not confirm the evacuation of any French diplomat or citizen.
The international airport in Khartoum, the capital, has been closed amid the fighting, and roads across the country remain dangerous.
Diplomats from Saudi Arabia were evacuated earlier by land to Port Sudan, in the country’s east, and flown to Saudi Arabia, according to General al-Burhan, with a similar operation expected to take place for Jordanian citizens.
The announcement of the evacuations followed days of intense pressure from foreign governments to secure the repatriation of foreign nationals as nearly continuous fighting since April 15 has imperiled civilians, humanitarian workers and diplomats. An American convoy was attacked this past week, and the European Union ambassador to Sudan was assaulted in his home.
At least 256 civilians have been killed in the clashes, and at least 1,454 have been wounded since the fighting broke out between forces led by two generals who are vying for control over the country, according to the country’s doctors trade union. But more remain uncounted, according to Mohamed Eisa, the secretary general of the Sudanese American Physicians Association, a United States-based nonprofit.
“Some die at home,” Dr. Eisa said. “Families can’t bury their dead because of the continuous fighting.”
As the clashes between the army and the rival Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group continued for an eighth day, Sudan’s health care system was on the verge of collapse, and there were few signs that the two warring factions would stop. Out of 78 major hospitals in the country, only 55 are operational, according to the physicians association.
“The health care system is about to collapse,” Dr. Eisa said in a telephone interview from Khartoum. “We must secure a safe passage for the injured.”
Eight continuous days of war have thrown Sudan into chaos. Countless residents of Khartoum have fled the city, where bodies line the streets, to find refuge in safer suburbs and states. More than 15,000 people from the western region of Darfur have crossed into neighboring Chad, and humanitarian organizations have reported being unable to work amid the incessant fighting.
Constant Méheut contributed reporting from Paris.
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