US to evacuate South Sudan embassy, issues travel warning

The Hill – by Rebecca Shabad

The State Department announced Tuesday it is suspending normal operations at the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan, and it issued a new travel warning for Americans in that region in the face of “ongoing political and social unrest.”

Americans in South Sudan are advised to “depart immediately,” the U.S. Embassy tweeted from the capital, Juba, where gunfire and mortar use have been reported.  

“U.S. citizens who choose to stay in South Sudan despite this warning should review their personal security situation and seriously reconsider their plans to remain,” the State Department said in the warning.

Non-emergency U.S. government personnel have been ordered by the department to leave South Sudan.

On Monday, South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced his government would impose an overnight curfew because of what he called a failed coup attempt. Violence broke out that day, and witnesses said heavy machine guns and mortars were used, according to reports.

“Circumstances there have gotten worse and we remain deeply concern about developments in South Sudan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The Obama administration, Carney said, is closely monitoring the situation and urges all parties in South Sudan to hammer out their differences “peacefully and democratically.”

This new warning replaces the one the State Department had issued in October to reflect “the current lack of security and risk of remaining in South Sudan.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan will provide evacuation options, its Twitter account said.

“Until we have been able to communicate evacuation options, please remain indoors, respect the curfew and monitor us for updates,” the embassy said in a tweet.

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