Middle East

Third US government-organized convoy reaches Port Sudan

By Jennifer Hansler and Michael Conte, CNN

The US State Department on Monday announced that a third US-government organized convoy had arrived in Port Sudan, the latest overland evacuation of US citizens and others amid the crisis in Sudan.

The more aggressive effort by the US government to assist those who had been in the capital city of Khartoum came after intense criticism from some Americans who said they felt abandoned by the US government and left to navigate the complicated and dangerous situation on their own. Despite a number of nations evacuating their citizens, the US government last week repeatedly said that the conditions were not conducive to a civilian evacuation.

On Saturday, however, the State Department announced that “a US government-organized convoy carrying US citizens, locally employed staff, and nationals from allied and partner nations” had reached Port Sudan – the first US-led effort to evacuate private American citizens from Sudan.

On Sunday, a second US government-organized convoy also reached Port Sudan. Once there, Americans were able to board ferries to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where US consular officials were on hand.

On Monday, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that consular officers “are on hand in Port Sudan to provide consular assistance to US citizens” – a notable return of diplomats to assist following the evacuation of all US government personnel from Khartoum.

“Since April 24th, we have moved State Department personnel from Washington DC and overseas missions, including, among others, to Djibouti, Jeddah, Nicosia and Nairobi to assist US citizens departing Sudan,” he said.

In addition to the bus convoys, the US for the first time used one of its naval assets, the USNS Brunswick, to transport people from Port Sudan to Jeddah.

Patel said Monday that the three convoys had “assisted over 700 individuals,” but he said he did not have specifics on how many of those individuals were US citizens.

“This successful operation would not have been possible without the dedication and bravery of our locally employed staff who facilitated the movements from Khartoum during an arduous overland journey to Port Sudan,” he said at a State Department briefing.

Patel said that more than 1,000 US citizens had departed Sudan since the violence broke out more than two weeks ago.

“In a multinational effort, the US government in concert with allies and partners has facilitated the departure of over 1,000 US citizens from Sudan since the start of the violence,” he said.

“This effort has included intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance overwatch, close coordination with partner nations on flights and convoys and a sustained diplomatic and messaging effort to approximately 5,000 US citizens who have sought our guidance,” Patel added.

Patel said the US government did not have additional convoys planned, citing “the very delicate security situation and security environment in Khartoum and Port Sudan as well.”

“Currently, we don’t have any immediate convoys planned, but this will largely depend, as I said, on the security situation, as well as the desire from any remaining American citizens to safely depart Sudan. So we’ll continue to monitor and make announcements as appropriate,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested later Monday that US-organized convoys to evacuate Americans would continue.

“As long as there are American citizens in Sudan who are seeking our assistance in leaving Sudan, we’ll continue to do this,” he said when asked during a Fox News interview if there were plans for future convoys.

Blinken said last week that the US was working to develop “a sustained process” that would allow Americans to leave the country overland, likely to Port Sudan, calling it “under very active development.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.

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