Authorized Departure On for US Embassy Khartoum

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is reporting that the Department of State has authorized the departure (aka: evacuation) of non-emergency personnel and family members at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum until further notice. I have not seen anything on Juba, where I think we also have a Consulate General and a USAID operation.

The Embassy’s March 10 warden message also “warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Sudan and recommends that American citizens defer all travel to Sudan due to uncertain security conditions following the expulsion of NGOs as well as harassment of humanitarian aid workers, employees of non-governmental organizations, and westerners in general. […] The government of Sudan recently expelled numerous aid groups from the country and senior government officials have publicly called humanitarian aid workers “spies.” Officials from the Sudan Humanitarian Affairs Commission have seized the finances and assets of many of these organizations, as well personal property of aid workers, including passports and laptop computers. Recent protests have featured sharp anti-western rhetoric. There is a continuing possibility that ongoing protests may encourage violent action against Europeans and Americans.”

You may remember that on January 1, 2008, unknown assailants shot and killed two U.S. Embassy employees there – American USAID officer, John Granville and his Sudanese national driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas.

According to the UN reports, in 2008, there were 277 hijackings, 140 more than in 2007, 218 vs. 147 kidnapping of humanitarian personnel, 192 vs. 93 attacks on UN facilities, and 36 vs. 24 personnel hurt. The number killed was similar, 11 vs. 13 but the whereabouts of four people are still unknown.

BBC News
is also just now reporting that four members of the peacekeeping force in the Sudanese region of Darfur have been injured in an ambush and notes that this is the first attack on the Darfur peacekeepers since the International Criminal Court indicted President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes last week.

It’s not looking good.