US Embassy Egypt: 1,900+ Evacuees Departed Cairo So Far

Via State Department: Status of U.S. Citizen Evacuations from Egypt | February 2, 2011:

The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens in Egypt remains one of the State Department’s top priorities. More than 1,900 U.S. citizens and their family members have been evacuated from Egypt in an operation that began on Monday, January 31.  We plan to continue evacuation efforts on Thursday, February 3, and are assessing the need to continue flights after that.  

We continue with our efforts to assist any U.S. citizens who wish to leave Egypt and are boarding additional flights today. As curfew has been eased by three hours, we expect more U.S. citizens will be able to reach the Cairo airport.
We advise U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations and carefully proceed to the airport during non-curfew hours.  U.S. citizens with passports that expired within the past 10 years may go directly to the airport.  Persons with passports that expired more than 10 years ago, should go the Embassy to obtain a replacement.
Although non-emergency personnel at our Embassy are leaving Egypt under ordered departure status, the Department continues to send personnel into Cairo and to our safe haven locations to assist U.S. citizens.  The Embassy remains open for U.S. citizen services only during non-curfew hours. 
The most up-to-date information for U.S. citizens in Egypt can be found on our website Travel.State.Gov.  U.S. citizens in Egypt, or persons concerned for their U.S. citizen loved ones in Egypt also may contact the State Department by email at or telephone at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (outside the United States and Canada).

The number of evacuees is a lot less than we thought given that the American resident population is estimated at a low of 35,000 to upwards of 50,000.  Is this a slow surge or is there a wave down the road?

Speaking of evacuations — here is something that we did not know. The State Department has ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and families from US diplomatic missions nearly 300 times since 1988. 

The largest evacuations in recent memory are Haiti with about 16,000 U.S. citizens and their family members after the earthquake in 2010 and Lebanon with 15,000 citizens and family members evacuated via Cyprus in 2006.


U.S. Foreign Service: on the front lines in Egypt (and Everywhere)

Via FP | Shadow Government by Michael Singh:

Looking after the welfare of Americans abroad — particularly during a crisis — is one of the core missions of the State Department and a foremost responsibility of U.S. diplomats stationed overseas. U.S. diplomats are rarely noticed, much less celebrated, but their service and sacrifices deserve the American people’s recognition.

When a crisis such as this erupts, the local U.S. Embassy will scramble to understand and report to Washington on events and offer its advice on U.S. policy. But it will also initiate a massive effort to account for and care for American citizens, both those who wish to leave and those who remain behind. Right now at the Cairo airport, our Foreign Service officers and other U.S. personnel are putting in days-long shifts to assist Americans who want to leave Egypt. The same officers who are responding to Washington’s demands for analysis of opposition figures and the latest reports on protests in Tahrir Square are also comforting weary travelers, serving them food and water, and packing them on to evacuation flights.

Among those the officers have seen off are their own families, whom the State Department yesterday ordered to depart Egypt. The farewells are hasty — families must leave quickly once the order is given — and sometimes do not take place at all if the employee is needed elsewhere. The families do not know when they will be able to return, if at all, and must make accommodations for housing and schools on the fly. When their families are long gone, the officers stay on to perform vital work to advance U.S. national security.

The experience of the officers in Cairo is hardly unique — many diplomats are stationed at embassies and consulates overseas where conditions do not permit their families to accompany them. Alongside other civilians and of course members of the military, they make daily sacrifices to serve their country. Few Americans are actually aware of what they do, and fewer still will ever have need to call upon their help. But they are there when Americans require, and for Americans stranded in Egypt, that is a deep relief.

Read the whole thing here.

Related FS blog posts on Crisis and 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)

Diplopundit | US Embassy Haiti: Where diplomats are not super-humans but real people who do the best they can (Paul Mayer) | Feb 05, 2010

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

US Embassy Egypt: 460 Evacuees to Istanbul, Athens and Larnaca on Day#2

Four State Dept-chartered flights from Cairo yesterday, Tuesday, February 1st, carried about 460 American citizens (employees, dependents & private amcits) from Egypt to safe-haven destinations in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Over 3,000 U.S. citizens have so far communicated to the embassy a desire to be evacuated.

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:
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada
1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the United States and Canada

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

All previous alerts and advisories on Egypt are here.

The State Dept also released the following media note on Day 2 of the evacuation:

The State Department remains focused on the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens in Egypt. Approximately 1,600 U.S citizens and their family members have been evacuated from Egypt in an operation that began on Monday, January 31. We will continue evacuation efforts to facilitate the safe transport of every U.S. citizen who wishes to leave the country.

The movement of citizens from Cairo slowed slightly on Tuesday, February 1, as U.S. citizens encountered difficulties traveling to the airport due to road closures related to demonstrations. Just under 400 passengers were flown to safe havens in Istanbul and Athens on February 1 aboard three U.S. Government-chartered planes. A fourth plane awaiting take-off will bring the day’s total to more than 460.

Commercial flights in and out of Cairo are restricted to operations during non-curfew hours. U.S.-sponsored evacuation flights have been permitted to operate around the clock. Airports in Alexandria remain open and U.S. citizens have been able to depart on private charters and commercial flights.

Although demonstrations have not targeted U.S. citizens, we are advising them to remain in their homes and hotels until demonstrations subside. Those wishing to depart from Cairo may proceed to Terminal 1, Hall 4, in Cairo International Airport, after curfew is lifted at 8 a.m. We will continue to send charter flights to evacuate U.S. citizens as rapidly as possible.

Although non-emergency Embassy personnel and employees’ families have been ordered to depart Egypt, the Department continues to send personnel into Cairo and to our safe haven locations. The Embassy remains open only for U.S. citizen services during non-curfew hours. Visa operations have been suspended.

So far, more than 3,000 U.S. citizens have communicated a desire to be evacuated, but we know that there will be others who have not contacted us or who are proceeding directly to the airport. The most up-to-date information for U.S. citizens in Egypt can be found on our website Travel.State.Gov. U.S. citizens in Egypt, or persons concerned for their U.S. citizen loved ones in Egypt also may contact the State Department by email at or telephone at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (outside the United States and Canada).

Related post:
US Embassy Egypt: 1,200 Evacuees to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey on Day#1 | Monday, January 31, 2011

US Embassy Iraq: From a staff of 8,000 to 17,000?

Via WaPo:

The top U.S. diplomat in Iraq on Tuesday defended the size and cost of the State Department’s operations in that country, telling lawmakers that a significant diplomatic footprint will be necessary after the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of this year.

James F. Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that his staff of 8,000 will grow in the coming year to about 17,000 people, the vast majority of whom will be contractors.

And while the State Department is spending about $2 billion annually on Iraq operations now, it plans to spend an additional $1 billion on the construction of facilities in each of the next several years.
“While all U.S. government work is expensive in Iraq due to the security situation, a robust civilian presence represents a significant savings for taxpayers from the bills they have been paying for the past eight years,” Jeffery said in his prepared statement.

The U.S. mission will also need to expand its fleet of four fixed-wing transport aircraft and a fleet of 37 helicopters operated by State’s Bureau of International Narcotics out of three airports in the country.

The State Department asked the Pentagon to transfer 24 Black Hawk helicopters to the mission, but the military needed them in Afghanistan, Jeffrey told the senators. As a result, State has had to purchase 20 additional Sikorsky helicopters and four more Hueys.

Read the whole thing here.