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US State Departments Sets Up Special Task Force for Crisis in Sudan

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows fires and destroyed market stalls in a commercial area of northern Khartoum, Sudan, April 18, 2023.
This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows fires and destroyed market stalls in a commercial area of northern Khartoum, Sudan, April 18, 2023.

The U.S. State Department has established a special task force to deal with the crisis in Sudan, a spokesperson confirmed to VOA on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said the State Department has established a Sudan Military Conflict Task Force to oversee the Department’s planning, management and logistics related to events in Sudan.

The spokesperson told VOA: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The ongoing fighting between the SAF and RSF threatens the security and safety of Sudanese civilians and undermines efforts to restore Sudan’s democratic transition.”

Fighting in Khartoum broke out Saturday between members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and has since spread further into the country, reportedly leaving hundreds of people dead and injured.

The leaders of the rival groups – SAF head General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and RSF chief General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, popularly known as Hemedti – joined forces to mount a 2021 coup that returned the country to military rule.

The two men have since turned on each other, amid squabbles over power-sharing in the new government.

State Department officials told VOA late Tuesday they are unaware of the death or injury of any U.S. citizens in Sudan at this time.

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum’s security alert of April 18 stated that because of the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and the closure of the airport, there are no plans for the U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens. It said travel alerts and Sudan’s Travel Advisory will be updated as the situation evolves.

The State Department said, “It is imperative that U.S. citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements to stay safe in these difficult circumstances.”

The State Department says the U.S. Embassy is continuing to closely monitor the situation in Khartoum and surrounding areas, where there is ongoing fighting, gunfire, and security force activity. It says U.S. citizens also are advised to remain sheltered in place; to attempt to stay at the lower levels of their location, remain away from windows, and attempt to keep away from the roadways; to monitor local media for updates; and to review State Department travel advisory for Sudan.

The State Department says Americans in Sudan should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security alerts and email if they need assistance.

All routine consular services at the U.S. Embassy Khartoum are suspended at this time given the unsafe environment. The Embassy is providing only emergency consular services as the security situation in Sudan permits. The State Department says it will always seek to provide consular services wherever possible but the perilous security situation in Khartoum severely impacts its ability to perform that work currently.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking from a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven in Japan, said he delivered a message to both of Sudan’s warring leaders.

"This morning, I made calls to Generals Burhan and Hemedti, urging them to agree to a 24-hour cease-fire to allow Sudanese to safely reunite with their families and to obtain desperately needed relief supplies," he said.

VOA White House Correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this story.