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Another U.S. evacuation attempt from Sudan wouldn't be safe, top U.S. official says

John Kirby on U.S. Embassy Sudan evacuation
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on U.S. embassy evacuation from Sudan 03:25

Due to the ongoing violence in Sudan that has left hundreds of people dead, it is unsafe to conduct another coordinated evacuation for remaining U.S. citizens, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told "CBS Mornings" on Monday. 

"We're going to do everything we can to help guide people, get them the information they need to get out safely," Kirby said. "But it is not safe right now for another evacuation attempt. That would actually put Americans in more danger, not less."

The White House announced Saturday that the U.S. military successfully evacuated American government employees from the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. The evacuation of roughly 70 U.S. government workers had been in the planning stages all week after fighting increased in Sudan's capital.

"Within that course of a week, we moved from ... just urging both sides to abide by a ceasefire, which of course we still do, to feeling like it wasn't safe enough for our diplomats and or embassy to stay manned there and operating, and so we moved them out," said Kirby.

The U.S. State Department confirmed that the U.S. Embassy in Sudan has temporarily closed and said it is unable to offer routine or emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Sudan due to the ongoing security situation. 

Sudan is seeing deadly fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. Violence broke out earlier this month due to a disagreement between the two generals over how to consolidate their forces, which has resulted in over 400 deaths, including one U.S. citizen, and multiple failed ceasefire attempts.   

According to Kirby, thousands of American citizens live and work in Sudan. Most of them are dual nationals with familial and business ties to Sudan who do not wish to evacuate.

Others, however, work for U.S. partner agencies like USAID or teach at the local American school and want to leave. Several dozen Americans are currently on their way to Port Sudan on the Red Sea as part of a UN convoy that the U.S. military is overseeing through unmanned assets, Kirby said.

He said the U.S. is looking at putting naval assets in the Red Sea, near Port Sudan, to help with any evacuation or assistance that U.S. citizens might need.

A U.S. official told CBS News later on Monday that the U.S. plans to send a contingent of troops to Port Sudan to coordinate the arrival and departure of Americans. Only one U.S. Navy ship — a destroyer — is currently in the Red Sea, and a supply ship belonging to the Military Sealift Command is en route. A plan for evacuation from Port Sudan is still being worked on, but the most likely scenario is that commercial ferries will take people across to Jeddah, a port city in Saudi Arabia, the official said.

Kirby advises all Americans who haven't already heeded warnings to leave Sudan to shelter in place due to violence in Khartoum.  

"This is not the time to be moving around the city," he said.

CBS News' David Martin contributed to this article.

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