The United States is partially closing its embassy in South Sudan and has ordered all non-emergency personnel to leave as fighting rages there.
The State Department announced the move in a travel warning that advises all Americans to leave South Sudan.
“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Republic of South Sudan and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in South Sudan depart immediately,” the State Department announced. “On December 17, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from South Sudan because of ongoing political and social unrest. The Embassy is also suspending normal operations until further notice and cannot provide routine consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan.”
American citizens will still be able to seek emergency services from the embassy–just not the regular consular services U.S. embassies typically provide.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Monday said his forces had put down an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to his former deputy, Riek Machar. Kiir said the government was in full control of the capital, Juba, after a night of heavy fighting between soldiers in the presidential guard.
Meanwhile, 13,000 people have fled to a U.N. compound on the outskirts of Juba, the UN mission to South Sudan said on Monday in a press release:
The United Nations peacekeeping in South Sudan is deeply concerned about a new bout of fighting that has forced an estimated 13,000 civilians – many women and children – to seek refuge at the UN base in Juba.
“I urge all parties in the fighting to cease hostilities immediately and exercise restraint,” Special Representative of the Secretary-General Hilde Johnson said in a statement from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The UN mission released a YouTube video today of people carrying their belongings and sitting in tents:
This post has been corrected to reflect that the U.S. embassy has not closed completely.