Abandoned and Afraid: The US Government's Duty to Protect Its Citizens Overseas
Written by: Sam Orlando
Staunton, VA - In a harrowing account of recent events, American teacher Deana Welker found herself and her daughter abandoned by the US military during the evacuation of personnel from a hotel in Sudan, despite being located in the same building at the time of the evacuation. US authorities knew Welker and her daughter were at the hotel, in fact they were told to wake up and pack their things. Welker told CNN that they then received an email letting them know that the US military wasn't coming to help them after all.
The mother and daughter were ultimately forced to rely on French military authorities for their safe passage out of the country, according to Welker. Some of President Biden's potential 2024 opponents say this incident raises important questions about the US government's commitment to protect its citizens abroad, especially humanitarian workers who are often stationed in high-risk locations. Welker, who was teaching in Sudan when hostilities broke out in the capital, recounted her ordeal in Sudan to CNN. She and other teachers had been staying in a hotel frequented by US embassy staff, hoping that they would be evacuated alongside embassy personnel. However, they received an email from the US State Department stating that private citizens should not expect assistance, leaving them to fend for themselves. The US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a news briefing that American citizens in Sudan "should have no expectation of a US government-coordinated evacuation at this time" due to the security situation and the closure of the airport in Khartoum. Patel further emphasized that it is "imperative that US citizens in Sudan make their own arrangements to stay safe in these difficult circumstances." This lack of support for American citizens abroad has led to growing concerns about the message it sends to the world. Several Republican lawmakers make the case that the US government's failure to protect its citizens in Afghanistan and now in Sudan may be perceived as a signal that American citizens are vulnerable to attacks, as their own government may not provide the necessary assistance during times of crisis. The importance of safeguarding citizens abroad cannot be overstated, particularly when it comes to humanitarian workers. These individuals often put their lives on the line to provide essential services and support to those in need, making their safety a top priority. The incident involving Welker and her daughter highlights the need for a more robust and proactive approach from the US government in ensuring the safety of its citizens abroad. As the situation in Sudan continues to evolve, it remains crucial for the US to reassess its strategies and priorities when it comes to protecting its citizens and upholding its reputation on the global stage. In the wake of this incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US is working on developing "a sustained process" to allow Americans to leave Sudan over land, likely via Port Sudan. However, for many Americans stranded in Sudan or those who have managed to escape, this assistance comes too late and is deemed insufficient. Welker's story is a sobering reminder of the responsibility that governments have to their citizens, even when they are thousands of miles away from home. It is crucial for the US to learn from these incidents and ensure that the necessary measures are in place to protect its citizens abroad, particularly those who dedicate their lives to humanitarian work.