The US military has evacuated American diplomats and their families from Khartoum, Sudan, while several Greek citizens remain stranded and frustrated.
Amid fighting in the country that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, President Biden confirmed the evacuation of US embassy employees.
“Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” he said in a statement.
Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract U.S. Government personnel from Khartoum in response to the situation in Sudan.
I am grateful for the commitment of our Embassy staff and the skill of our service members who brought them to safety.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 23, 2023
Biden confirmed the embassy in Khartoum is now closed: “We are temporarily suspending operations at the US embassy in Sudan.”
He also thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, saying they had been “critical to the success of our operation”.
The president praised the embassy staff’s “courage and professionalism” and “the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety”.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in the department’s announcement, “The widespread fighting has caused significant numbers of civilian deaths and injuries and damage to essential infrastructure and posed an unacceptable risk to our Embassy personnel.”
He said suspending operations was a difficult decision, but the safety of American personnel is “my first responsibility.”
The decision to evacuate the American personnel comes after a week of heavy fighting between rival military factions – the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF – which has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded.
Greek citizens in Khartoum are stranded and frustrated
While steps were taken to evacuate government workers, the Biden administration has been clear that a broader evacuation of all US citizens in the country isn’t feasible, CNN reports.
There are hundreds of foreign nationals stranded in Khartoum, unable to flee because the international airport is closed and are being caught in the crossfire between the rival factions.
Among them, several Greeks who have found refuge in the Greek heartland in Khartoum located exactly where the fighting takes place, in the center of the city.
Antonis Chaldeos, a scholar who has dedicated his professional life to writing and researching the Greek communities of Africa told Greek Reporter:
“There is a walled building block within which there is the Church of the Annunciation, the offices of the Greek community, the Greek school, and the building of the Greek Embassy which has been defunct for years.
“In this area which is located near the government buildings, rival military forces are fighting for control of the capital.”
There is a small but vibrant community of Greeks in Sudan. At least two Greek individuals were injured by a rocket that landed within the vicinity of the Orthodox Church when the fighting first erupted last Saturday.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Nubia, Savvas, appealed through Open TV on Friday for international help.
“We are all in danger,” he said. “Nobody will be left if nothing is done. We are all tired. We are without electricity and we have food that could last for only a few days.”
The sister of one of the injured Greeks warned that her brother’s life is in danger if he is not transferred to a hospital. She appealed to the International Red Cross to dispatch a doctor to examine his wounds and deliver first aid.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he is trying to coordinate an EU response the crisis in Sudan.
He asked Brussels to provide assistance to the Greeks in Sudan and to “coordinate efforts for their possible evacuation when conditions allow it.”