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EXCLUSIVE: Biden Presides Over Record-Breaking 11 Embassy Evacuations

In evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, pictured March 12, the Biden administration sets a record for embassies evacuated in one term, with a total of 11. (Photo: Clarens Siffroy/Getty Images)

As a cannibalistic gang war rages through Haiti, President Joe Biden last week dispatched a Marine Corps special unit to protect the evacuation of nonemergency personnel as well as fellow Marines from the U.S. Embassy in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

With that evacuation of the embassy in Haiti, the Biden administration has presided over more evacuations of U.S. embassies—a total of 11—than any other presidential administration in U.S. history. 

Since Biden took office in January 2021, his State Department has partially or fully evacuated 11 U.S. embassies via what are known as authorized or ordered departure directives.

President Barack Obama presided over the second-most embassy evacuations of any administration with a total of eight over two terms (Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Central African Republic, and South Sudan), or about one a year. Donald Trump presided over three partial evacuations in his four years as president.

Authorized departure advisories consist of the State Department suggesting that diplomats, their families, and other Americans leave the country in question—often through special travel arrangements made by the department. 

Ordered departures are directives from the State Department for all Americans and nonessential embassy staff to leave the country in question immediately. 

Military protection was required to ensure that Americans were escorted safely in the evacuations of America’s embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Khartoum, Sudan. 

Here are some details:

Burma, 2021

On March 30, 2021, the State Department ordered its first embassy evacuation during the 2-month-old Biden administration. 

The agency ordered the departure of “non-essential diplomatic personnel and all personnel family members” over two months after a military coup in Burma, also called Myanmar. 

In the year following Biden’s threat to sanction the military junta there, a series of improvised explosive devices were detonated within a mile of the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Rangoon. No American casualties or injuries were reported.

Chad, 2021

In April 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Chad issued a statement that the “reported death of the Chadian president” likely would result in unrest, ordered staff to “shelter in place,” and predicted that no evacuation would be necessary

The following November, however, the State Department ordered nonessential staff to leave Chad as rebel fighters approached the capital, N’Djamena.

Afghanistan, 2021

Biden’s July 8, 2021, announcement that the U.S. was going to suspend all military operations in Afghanistan was met with chaos inside the war-torn country

The telegraphed U.S. evacuation gave antagonists, including the Taliban and other fundamentalist, radical Muslim groups, time to prepare a triumphant march through Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. 

Photos and videos from the U.S. Embassy evacuation in Kabul evoked painful memories of the botched 1975 evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. Some Afghan civilians clung to the final planes’ landing equipment in a desperate move to escape the incoming Taliban.

Thirteen American service members died in a terrorist bombing outside the airport during the final evacuation Aug. 26, 2021, along with over 150 Afghan civilians. 

Biden promised to retaliate for the terrorist attack, but did not.

Ethiopia, 2021

Threats from rebel forces in Ethiopia’s civil war, known as the Tigray War, led the State Department in November 2021 to create a special task force to evacuate “nonemergency government personnel” from the country and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. 

The Ethiopian government criticized the State Department’s decision as “playing into rebel propaganda.” 

Rebels didn’t enter Addis Ababa, and although a tenuous peace deal was signed a year later, the region remains in conflict.

Ukraine, 2022

On Feb. 12, 2022, the State Department issued “Do Not Travel” notifications to American citizens for Ukraine. It also closed the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv on Feb. 14, evacuating most staff.

The department relocated a small team to operate from Poland 10 days before Russia invaded Ukraine, when 30,000 Russian troops were conducting a staging drill on the Ukrainian/Belarusian border.

The U.S. Embassy reopened in Kyiv on May 18, 2022, after the Russian advance toward Ukraine’s capital stalled.

Belarus, 2022

Four days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, largely using Belarus’ border with Ukraine as a staging ground, the State Department ordered Americans to evacuate Belarus.

The State Department also closed the U.S. Embassy in Minsk on Feb. 28. It has not reopened.

Russia, 2022

On the same day as its Belarus announcement, the State Department issued an authorized departure for “non-emergency employees and family members” from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. 

American citizens also were encouraged to leave Russia “immediately” on commercial flights before airlines quit operating in Russian airspace. 

Unlike the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is still open and has issued warnings to the Russian government concerning threats of terrorism.

Nigeria, 2022

The State Department issued an ordered departure for nonemergency U.S. government employees and family members in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Oct. 27, 2022, citing an “elevated risk of terror attacks.” 

In May 2023, “unknown attackers” fired on an American convoy, killing four, including two staffers at the U.S. consulate. The bodies were set on fire.

Two staffers from the U.S. mission to Nigeria also were kidnapped, but it appears that the State Department chose not to report the kidnappings to the media or the public. 

According to State Department statements to CNN and the department’s official website, the two hostages weren’t mentioned until they were rescued two days later.

Sudan, 2023

Following an April 18, 2023, attack on an American convoy in Khartoum, Sudan, the situation at the U.S. Embassy there deteriorated rapidly.

The U.S. Defense Department deployed over 100 special operations forces to escort diplomatic staff and their families as well as the Marine Corps detachment assigned to guard the embassy.

Two Americans were killed in terrorist attacks in the Sudanese civil war before other Americans were evacuated successfully.

Niger, 2023

In August 2023, the State Department issued an ordered departure to “non-emergency U.S. government personnel” of the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, the capital of Niger. 

The department coordinated evacuation of staff via military flights, since commercial flights were limited. 

Although violent demonstrations had occurred for two years near the U.S. Embassy without sparking departure directives, violent attacks on the nearby French embassy and an attempted coup led the State Department to issue the ordered departure.

Haiti, 2024

In Biden’s last presidential campaign, he paid special attention to Haiti, promising in 2019 that he would “press for dialogue to prevent further violence and instability.” 

Since the Biden administration began in January 2021, Haiti has fallen into further disarray as prison gangs broke out and laid waste to the Caribbean nation.

U.S. embassies elsewhere were evacuated only once during the Biden administration. But the State Department ordered the partial “authorized departure” or “ordered departure” evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince four times: in 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024.

The department issued an alert for embassy staff to “avoid demonstrations and any large gatherings of people” in early February.

With Haiti’s prime minister under U.S. protection in Puerto Rico, a gang leader and cannibal nicknamed Barbecue has taken leadership over the country. On March 10, nonessential U.S. Embassy staff were airlifted out by the Marine Corps in a nighttime operation.

Hundreds of Americans remain trapped in Haiti as the situation deteriorates further. But the Biden administration hasn’t mentioned Americans trapped on the island or announced any plans for their rescue. It has announced, however, that the U.S. will provide support for a U.N. mission based in Kenya.

The world stage doesn’t appear to be calming down anytime soon. Over 110 armed conflicts are in progress around the globe, and over 30 consist of civil wars and coups that flared up in the past four years.

Simon Hankinson, a senior research fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center of The Heritage Foundation, argues that many of these evacuations of U.S. embassies were stoked by “weakness and indecision.” (The Daily Signal is the news and commentary outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

“World events are unpredictable, and no U.S. administration can be blamed for each and every wild-card coup in Africa or blowout in the Middle East,” Hankinson said, adding:

But the Biden administration has projected weakness and indecision from the beginning to both allies and enemies. From the botched Afghanistan pullout, which cost unnecessary American lives and left equipment and people in the lurch, to the current attempt to balance domestic political constituencies with heretofore bipartisan historical support of Israel, the pattern is one of hedging and hoping.

The Daily Signal sought comment from the White House. Although deputy press secretary Andrew Bates responded to the inquiry, he refused to answer any questions and referred The Daily Signal to the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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