US Embassy Egypt: Leaving Not Optional, Now on Ordered Departure

About five flights are estimated to depart Cairo today, Tuesday, February 1st, carrying American citizens (employees, dependents and private citizens) on State Dept-chartered flights. Three flights are reportedly going to Istanbul with one flight each going to Athens and Cyprus.

More flights are expected to happen tomorrow, February 2.

Check out the State Dept’s official Egypt Crisis page here.

All previous alerts and advisories on Egypt are here.

In an announcement dated today, February 1st, the State Department has also declared US Embassy Egypt on Ordered Departure for non-emergency personnel and dependents:

Ordered Departure Declared for Egypt

On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. Government personnel and their families from Egypt in light of recent events. The Department of State will continue to facilitate the evacuation of U.S. citizens who require assistance.  Cairo airport is open and operating, but flights may be disrupted and transport to the airport may be disrupted due to the protests. 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:, or at 1-202-501-4444. Please follow the directions on the Embassy website for all other consular inquiries.

Departure order only applies to US Government staff and family members under chief of mission authority.

So if FS family members had an option to stay in Cairo, yesterday, that is no longer the case today.

What is the difference between an authorized departure and an ordered departure? The State Department, as usual, is diplomatic even when explaining the fine line to employees:

“Authorized departure merely allows the Chief of Mission greater flexibility in determining which employees or groups of employees may depart, and avoids any negative connotation that might be attached to the use of the term “evacuation.” Since the law uses the terms synonymously, there is no difference in benefits now in application of the regulations. Note: Once the Under Secretary of State for Management (“M”) approves the evacuation status for post—either authorized or ordered—the 180-day clock “begins ticking” (by law, an evacuation cannot last longer than 180 days).”

The Department of Defense is more upfront in its joint publication:

“The ambassador has determined that the situation has deteriorated to a point that family members and certain employees should leave post for their safety. Ordered departure is not optional; family members and employees will be issued orders to leave. When the ordered departure status is terminated, official evacuees must return to the post.”

The list of employees to remain normally includes those needed to manage the evacuation of US citizens – consular officers, press folks, possibly the budget and logistics people. Not sure if there is a list publicly available anywhere.    

Related resources:

Frequently Asked Questions on Evacuation (US Employees and Family Members/MOH)

Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR)

FS blog posts on Evacuation:

Sherwood Family Nonsense | Hello from Athens (Evacuated from Cairo)

Small bits | Evac: 36 of 365 (Evacuated from Mexican border post)

Four Globetrotters | It Hit the Fan (Evacuated from Tunis)

Kelly Armstrong in The Embassy Wife | So, what’s an ordered departure really like?