United States has deployed 46 additional military personnel in South Sudan and may take further military action to support the security of its citizens in the violence-wracked country, President Barack Obama has said.
“As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of US citizens, personnel, and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan,” Mr. Obama said in a communique to the Congress as released by the White House.
Mr. Obama said on December 21, 46 US military personnel deployed by military aircraft to the area of Bor, South Sudan, to conduct an operation to evacuate US citizens and personnel.
After the aircraft came under fire as they approached Bor, the operation was curtailed due to security considerations, and the aircraft and all military personnel onboard departed South Sudan without completing the evacuation, he said adding that the purpose of this operation was to protect US citizens, personnel, and property.
Mr. Obama said this action has been directed consistent with his responsibility to protect US citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of US national security and foreign policy interests.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama, who is spending his year end vacation in Hawaii, was updated on the situation in South Sudan.
This followed a meeting the National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, held with senior members of the national security team and US personnel in Juba and elsewhere in the region, a White House official said.
The United States was conducted in coordination with the United Nations and in consultation with the South Sudanese government.
“US citizens and citizens from our partner nations were flown from Bor to Juba on UN and US civilian helicopters,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
The US and the United Nations, which has the lead for securing Bor airport in South Sudan, took steps to ensure fighting factions were aware these flights were a humanitarian mission, she said.
“The US government is doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of United States citizens in South Sudan.
“We are working with our allies around the world to connect with and evacuate US citizens as quickly and safely as possible. For their safety and security, we will not outline specific evacuation plans,” she said
So far, the US has evacuated approximately 380 US officials and private citizens and approximately 300 citizens of other countries to Nairobi and other locations outside South Sudan on four chartered flights and five military aircraft, Psaki said.