US Embassy Egypt: 1,200 Evacuees to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey on Day#1

'Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire' (The Sphinx Armach...Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at:

EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada
1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the United States and Canada

We have tried to keep tabs of the evac flights taking American evacuees (non-essential personnel, dependents and private Amcits) out of Egypt today. Here is what we know: approximately 1,200 people were evacuated from Cairo on Monday, January 31st with the first flight going to Larnaca, Cyprus. An additional two flights also went to Larnaca.  Three flights departed for Athens and three more flights left for Istanbul. So nine flights and some 1,200 people on day #1 of the evacuation.

A note on the posts staffing since they would constitute the immediate support at this time at the safe-havens: The US Embassy in Nicosia is a medium-size post with a two-officer consular section.  Post is noted for the work it did during the 15,000 Amcit evacuation out of Lebanon in 2006. The US posts in Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul, Adana) have approximately 16 officers and 30 or so local employees.  (FS blogger, the slow move east is in Istanbul, get some sleep now, hannah!). Not sure how big is the consular section in Athens but it is presumably comparable or even larger  than Turkey. Of course, posts normally draft other officers in the mission and not just Consular Officers to staff round the clock duties like this. 

We also understand that Consular Affairs is sending over three dozens consular officers to Cairo and the safe-haven locations. But unless they left yesterday, a Sunday, they could still be in route to their destinations today.

We’re hearing that there will be more flights for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 1—also from Cairo Airport, throughout the day. We’ll keep you posted if we know more.

An update on our FS blogger in Cairo: The Sherwood Family Nonsense told us that they (she and three kids) have arrived safely in Athens, while their FSO remained at the Cairo airport assisting evacuees out of Egypt. Excerpt:

We’re in Athens, some went to Istanbul, some went to Bahrain, and perhaps some other places.  The rumor was that twelve planes were chartered to shuttle people out.  We were number four and arrived in Athens at 9:00 pm.  We got to our hotel at midnight.

We were all very much surprised about the evacuation, as evident by my post about the situation a few days ago, nobody thought that things would downgrade so quickly.  I wanted to stay very much, but we had some friends in the branch whose advice I trust very much strongly advise us to go, so we went.  I hoped until the very last minute that it would be called off and we could stay, but now we’re here and there’s no returning for thirty days.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking that perhaps it will all clear up and we can stay… but of course we’re already gone.

Read more from her post here.


 

 


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First Flights Out of Egypt and Other Evacuation Questions and Answers

It’s after 6 pm in Cairo right now.  We understand that the first flights carrying evacuees of US government dependents & non-emergency employees, as well as private U.S. citizens left Egypt for Larnaca, Cyprus around mid-day today.  Five other flights were filling up for various safe-haven posts. By mid-afternoon, another two flights left for Athens.  We expect this will be a very long day for embassy folks in Cairo, Nicosia, Istanbul and Athens.  And could go on for many, many more days.

An FS blogger (from a family of five) has last posted about the events in Cairo on January 25 and had an unrelated post on Jan 29 but we have not seen any new post since then. Cairo is one of the State Department’s largest posts. It is a fully accompanied post – that means there are spouses/partners and children of all ages.  We are most concerned for the youngest members of the FS in Cairo. This must be extremely unsettling, even traumatic for children.  We hope somebody at State has thought about moving additional mental health professionals into the safe haven areas to anticipate potential emotional fallout. We think there is one assigned in Cairo but we don’t know how that works and where he/she goes in an evacuation.  

* * *

Meanwhile, the US Embassy has released a new Warden Message (#6) addressing Frequently Asked Questions on the evacuation of private American citizens.  Due to the internet blackout in Egypt, we are republishing it here. Feel free to pass it on. We understand that dial-up modems, ham radios and fax machines are currently used as modes of communications in and out of Egypt.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo informs U.S. citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe.  This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law.  U.S. citizens who travel on US government – arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location.  Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt on Monday, January 31.  There will be a limited number of seats available on evacuation flights on January 31.  Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.  Persons interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.  Please provide the following information:

Name, age, place of birth, U.S. passport number and any special medical needs.

Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’m ready to go.  What do I do?
Documented U.S. citizens may proceed to the HAJ Terminal 4 of the airport as of Monday, January 31, 11:00 am. 

My child is a U.S. citizen. Can my whole family be evacuated? 

A U.S. citizen child may be escorted by one adult, preferably a parent, who has appropriate travel documents.  If a family has more than one U.S. citizen child, the one-adult rule still applies.

Do I need a U.S. passport?

All U.S. citizen travelers and their spouses and children, are required to have valid travel documents.  The U.S. Embassy in Cairo will assist U.S. citizens with travel documents.  U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa and are interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.


What do I do if my child is a U.S. citizen, but hasn’t yet been documented?

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.

My family members aren’t U.S. citizens.  Can they travel with me?

The scheduled evacuation flights will transport U.S. citizens and their immediate family members.  Immediate family members – defined as spouses and children – who are not U.S. citizens will be required to have travel documentation that will permit their entry into the safe haven destinations.  At this time, flights are expected to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, Athens, Greece, and Nicosia, Cyprus.  Safe haven destinations may change.  U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will not be able to select their safe haven destinations.

Will you fly me to the United States? 
Our goal is to get people to a safe place, where they can make their own onward travel arrangements.  Travelers will be responsible for their own onward travel arrangements and accommodations in the safe haven city.  Consular officers will provide travelers with information on airlines and hotels.

What should I bring?

Travelers should bring valid travel documents and any necessary medications.Each traveler may bring one suitcase and a small personal carry-on item.U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared for a substantial wait at the airport.  Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers and other necessary toiletries with them to the airport.


What about my pets?
Evacuation flights will not be able to accommodate pets. 

Do I have to pay for the flight?
U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will be asked to sign paperwork promising to reimburse the U.S. Government for flight costs at a later date.  Exact flight costs are not yet available, but should be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the safe haven location.

How do I get to the airport?
At this time, public transport to include taxis is still operating in Egypt.

The original warden message is here.


US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr. to end assignment on April 30

Official photo of United States Ambassador to ...Image via WikipediaVia NYT:

The United States ambassador to China, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., delivered a letter of resignation on Monday to President Obama and intends to leave his position on April 30, a White House official said, clearing the way for him to explore a potential 2012 Republican presidential bid.

Mr. Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, was nominated nearly two years ago by President Obama to serve as the top American envoy to China. He has not decided whether to move forward with a candidacy, associates said, but he has had several conversations with a circle of political advisers who are waiting in the wings if he decides to run.

While Mr. Huntsman has declined to discuss his political ambitions, particularly those that could include challenging the president for whom he has served, a trail of evidence has been building that signals his interest in a White House bid. He has also been spending less time in Beijing and more time in Washington, where he bought a $3.6 million home last summer.


Continue reading: Huntsman Clears Way for a 2010 Bid


US Embassy Egypt: Evacuation Updates and Contact Info

Janice L. JacobsImage via WikipediaThe publicly available report we’ve seen put the private American citizen population in Egypt at approximately 35,000. But news outlets are floating numbers as high as 50,000 – 80,000.

Since not all Americans register at the embassy, and there are presumably American tourists in the usual destinations around the country, the potential number of evacuees is quite impossible to pin down. But we suspect that the Egypt evacuation may potentially dwarf the 15,000 American citizens from Lebanon in 2006, one of the largest overseas evacuations of American citizens in recent history. An evacuation normally starts in accordance with the embassy’s emergency action plan (EAP), using scheduled airlines, chartered flights, or surface transportation. The Lebanon evacuation of course, was a “noncombatant evacuation operation” (NEOs) conducted with the US military whereas, this one in Egypt right now, is a civilian evacuation. 

Janice L. Jacobs, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs did an on-the-record briefing on the evacuation of US citizens in Egypt.  Important points below:

  • Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure from Egypt of dependents and non-emergency employees.
  • On private Amcits – there are thousands of potential evacuees out of Egypt, but no real numbers.
  • Lack of internet access makes embassy job more difficult; radio announcements will be used to reach Americans.
  • Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt today, Monday, January 31st
  • Three places in Europe being looked at as safe havens are Istanbul (TURKEY), Nicosia (CYPRUS), and Athens (GREECE).
  • Anticipate that the State Dept will probably […] run several of these evacuation flights over a number of days.
  • State Dept is sending additional staff into Egypt and will also locate additional officers at the safe haven points (we are guessing that the additional staff would be consular officers or officers with prior crisis experience).
  • State Dept has a 24/7 task force going. Call centers are taking down inquiries as they come in.
  • Within the US or Canada — call 1-888-407-4747.
  • Calling from outside the US — call 1-202-501-4444.
  • Embassy Contact email: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov
  • Evacuees to sign promissory notes per regulations; evacuees are expected to pay for their trips.
  • The charter flights are not intended to supplant Americans’ existing commercial travel plans. Citizens with ticketed flights should contact their airlines.
  • Number of Embassy personnel and dependents to be evacuated  – “probably around a thousand people, but I’m – really, I’m just guessing and I would much prefer to get back to you with a number.


U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy at the following email address: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

Also this one from State: We are aware that not all U.S. citizens have internet or cell phone service in Egypt. We do know that many Americans are in contact with friends and family outside of Egypt. Because of communications interruptions, we ask that family and friends in the United States assist us by relaying information to their loved ones in Egypt directly. The most up-to-date information – including evacuation instructions – can be found on our website at travel.state.gov.

Read the entire briefing here.

Related items:
01/30/2011 – On-the-Record Briefing On Steps the U.S State Department is Taking to Assist U.S. Citizens in Egypt

GAO-07-893R State Department: The July 2006 Evacuation of American Citizens from Lebanon


Ambassadors’ Renominations Submitted to the Senate: Bryza, Eisen, Ford, Ricciardone, Krol

Nominations for ASEAN and USTR also resubmitted

On January 26, President Obama resubmitted to the Senate the following nominations from last year:

Matthew J. Bryza, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 5/26/10)

Norman L. Eisen, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 6/29/10)

Robert Stephen Ford, of Vermont, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Syrian Arab Republic, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 2/22/10)

Francis Joseph Ricciardone, Jr., of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Turkey, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 7/12/10)

George Albert Krol, of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan. (Originally nominated on 9/16/10)

David Lee Carden, of New York, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. (Originally nominated on 11/15/10)

Michael W. Punke,
of Montana, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Peter F. Allgeier, resigned. (Originally nominated on 9/14/09)

Related item:
Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate | January 26, 2011