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9 Jul, 2023 15:09

US accused of leaving innocents stranded in Sudan

For many, a safe haven is now out of reach amid the continuing violence in the African country, Gebrehiwot Ewnetu has told RT
US accused of leaving innocents stranded in Sudan

The emergency exit plan enacted by US diplomats in Sudan, which involved destroying all passports submitted to the embassy, has left hundreds of innocent people stranded. Policy and governance expert Gebrehiwot Ewnetu told RT on Saturday that the victims of Washington's hasty withdrawal from the country, which is engulfed by clashes between rival factions, face enormous problems in replacing their documents.  

When fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces erupted in April, Washington ordered its personnel to evacuate. This prompted the embassy in Khartoum to scramble to destroy classified documents and passports in its files. A State Department spokeswoman confirmed as much to the New York Times, describing it as “standard operating procedure” to prevent sensitive materials from falling into the wrong hands.

Speaking to RT, Ewnetu noted that the issue has several consequences. He explained it would be very challenging for Sundanese nationals to replace their passports and get a laissez-passer due to the dangerous security environment. “Sudanese officials will be saying: ‘We are in a war zone now, I can’t just issue a new passport, I’m having a civil war,’” he said.

When it comes to non-Sudanese nationals, while foreign embassies have established border access points to help them with documents required to leave the country, they will still face huge hurdles, according to Ewnetu.

“It will make it much more difficult for them to access safe havens, to leave the country, to access their rights,” the expert said.

The destruction of passports has had a major impact on some local residents. Alhaj Sharaf said he wanted to enroll in a master’s program in the US, got his visa approved, and was scheduled to receive his passport back from the embassy. However, when hostilities broke out, the embassy informed him his passport had been destroyed.

“Consequently, I found myself stranded in Sudan, unable to travel and complete my master’s program, or even leave,” he told RT.

Amid the chaos, the UN has allocated an additional $8 million to help thousands of refugees seeking shelter in South Sudan. According to Peter van der Auweraert, the UN’s coordinator for the region, many displaced people were left with nothing. Some of them have reportedly become victims of violence and extortion, and urgently need support to rebuild their lives, he said.