More diplomatic personnel evacuated from South Sudan

Additional diplomatic personnel at the United States Embassy in South Sudan were evacuated from the capital on Friday, the State Department announced.

“Due to the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, today the United States has further drawn down staffing at our embassy in Juba. We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel,” spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page remains in Juba. Harf did not indicate where the evacuated personnel were taken. 

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The drawdown will prevent the embassy in Juba from providing consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan, Harf added. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, will provide those services instead.

Citizens who are still in South Sudan, however, are urged to leave the country immediately. 

Americans were first evacuated from the country on Dec. 18, and they continued to leave right before Christmas. At that point, around 380 U.S. officials had safely been evacuated on flights provided by both the United Nations and the Pentagon. 

The latest drawdown on Friday comes as the U.S. announced an additional $49.8 million in humanitarian aid to South Sudan. 

An estimated 1,000 people or more have died since violence broke out in December. Political and social unrest erupted after President Salva Kiir announced an overnight curfew as a consequence for what he called a failed coup attempt.

Members of Kiir’s government and negotiators from the rebel groups began to explore the possibility of a ceasefire in talks that also happened Friday.