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Biden spox Kirby says ‘not safe’ enough to evacuate Americans stranded in Sudan

National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1, 2022. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
April 25, 2023

After the Biden administration evacuated U.S. government employees from the embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, amid ongoing violence in the country that has left hundreds dead, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said it is too dangerous to evacuate the remaining Americans.  

“We’re going to do everything we can to help guide people, get them the information they need to get out safely,” Kirby told CBS Mornings on Monday. “But it is not safe right now for another evacuation attempt. That would actually put Americans in more danger, not less.”

“Within that course of a week, we moved from … just urging both sides to abide by a ceasefire, which of course we still do, to feeling like it wasn’t safe enough for our diplomats and or embassy to stay manned there and operating, and so we moved them out,” said Kirby.

Kirby said thousands of Americans, most of whom are dual nationals, live and work in Sudan. According to Kirby, many do not want to evacuate. However, some Americans do want to leave, he said.

Also on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which he said would last 72 hours starting at midnight on April 24.

“To support a durable end to the fighting, the United States will coordinate with regional and international partners, and Sudanese civilian stakeholders, to assist in the creation of a committee to oversee the negotiation, conclusion, and implementation of a permanent cessation of hostilities and humanitarian arrangements in Sudan,” Blinken said.

Kirby’s claims are eerily similar to those made by the Biden administration after the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, when as many as 9,000 American citizens were left stranded amid the Taliban takeover, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.

The report contradicted the Biden administration’s earlier claims that just 100-150 Americans were left behind. It also highlighted the administration’s characterization of Americans who were abandoned, particularly Blinken’s “problematic” suggestion that some Americans were still unsure if they wanted to leave Afghanistan at the time.

“Instead of reinforcing the administration’s commitment to continue to evacuate Americans, Secretary Blinken instead parsed between dual nationals and American citizens claiming the remainder were ‘…dual citizens living in Afghanistan for years, decades, generations. Deciding whether or not to leave the place that they know as home is a wrenching decision.’ Dual citizens faced the same security threats and deserved the same efforts to depart Afghanistan as American citizens,” the report stated.

“The effort to distinguish between dual citizens and American citizens is a distinction without a difference, and appears to have been a messaging tactic to minimize the number of American citizens left behind,” it added.