Ethiopia praised for helping Sudan evacuees as fighting intensifies

Sunday April 23 2023
People flee the southern part of Khartoum

People flee the southern part of Khartoum as street battles between the forces of two rival Sudanese generals continued on April 21, 2023. PHOTO | EBRAHIM HAMID | AFP


The US government has praised Ethiopia for lending a helping hand in evacuation efforts, as foreign governments scramble to rescue their diplomats, staff and citizens trapped in Sudan.

World powers US and the UK have airlifted their diplomats from Khartoum, but some countries who were unable to airlift their citizens have been using other options, including travel by road through the borders of Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Evacuees are entering Ethiopia through the Galabat-Metema border crossing from where they will travel to the capital Addis Ababa as they wait to be flown back to their home country.

“Ethiopia is cooperating with some countries to evacuate their nationals in view of international humanitarian law,” Ambassador Meles Alem, Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, told The EastAfrican on Sunday.

It is not yet clear how many people or what nationalities have been evacuated to Ethiopia so far, and Ambassador Meles declined to give more information.

Read: Little let-up in Sudan fighting despite truce declaration


The US publicly acknowledged the assistance it received in evacuating US government personnel from Khartoum.

“I thank Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, which were critical to the success of our operation,” President Joe Biden said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“I am receiving regular reports from my team on their ongoing work to assist Americans in Sudan, to the extent possible. We are also working closely with our allies and partners in this effort.”

The US embassy in Addis Ababa also thanked the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian National Defence Force for their support in evacuating the US citizens from Khartoum.

President Biden urged the two rival Sudanese generals to implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan. 

He further announced that the US embassy is temporarily suspending operations in Sudan, but said “our commitment to the Sudanese people and the future they want for themselves is unending.”

Sudan's sudden slide into conflict entered its ninth day Sunday as rival military factions battle for control of the country.

Also read: Explainer: Sudan conflict and what worries neighbours, others

The fighting between Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary has so far claimed hundreds of lives; with people fleeing the country while many foreigners, including diplomats, staff workers and aid workers, still remain stranded as fighting spreads from Khartoum to other parts of the country.