US Embassy Libya Evacuation to Malta Via Ferry – Tomorrow, February 23

Valletta is the closest post to  Tripoli so Malta as safe-haven destination makes sense. The US Embassy in Tripoli late today sent out a warden message announcing the evacuation via ferry to Malta starting tomorrow, February 23. That trip looks close on the map but actually takes six hours by ferry boat.

Map extracted from CIA World Factbook

U.S. Government Chartered Ferry Evacuation
February 22, 2011


A U.S. Government chartered ferry will  depart Tripoli from the As-shahab Port in central Tripoli, located on the sea road across from the Radisson Blu Mahari Hotel, for Valletta, Malta on Wednesday, February 23. Processing of passengers will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. local time.  U.S. citizen travelers wishing to depart should proceed as soon as possible after 9:00 a.m. to the pier and arrive no later than 10:00 a.m.  U.S. citizens will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions. The ferry will depart no later than 3:00 p.m.

Travelers should bring valid travel documents and any necessary medications.

Each traveler may bring one suitcase and a small personal carry-on item.   Although pets are allowed on the ferry, any pets transported to Malta must meet stringent European Union requirements, which can be found at list_third_en.htm.   The U.S. Embassies in Tripoli and Valletta are unable to assist U.S. citizens in obtaining the necessary documents and/or meeting other EU requirements for pet travel.  Please note it is routine for pets to be rigorously examined and quarantined for six weeks upon entering Malta.  Kenneling to meet Maltese pet requirements will be at the expense of the owner.

U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared to wait several hours.  Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers and other necessary toiletries with them to the pier.

U.S. citizens requesting evacuation on U.S. Government-chartered transport must sign paperwork promising to reimburse the U.S. Government for transportation costs at a later date. Exact transportation costs are not yet available, but will be comparable to a one-way commercial ferry trip of a comparable distance on the date of travel. U.S. citizens who travel on U.S. Government–chartered transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from Malta.

Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safe haven country and/or the United States, if that is your final destination.  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.  All U.S. citizen travelers and their spouses and children, are required to have valid travel documents. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli 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 Libya via U.S. Government-chartered transportation should contact the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy Tripoli by sending an email to or by calling 1-202-501-4444.

Active links added above. Also see the WaPo story here on U.S. still awaiting Libya’s permission to evacuate Americans.

US Disaster Assistance Team Deploys to NZ Earthquake

Via the USAID press shop:

In response to the earthquake in New Zealand and upon request from the New Zealand government, the United States is deploying a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). The Response Team will include the Los Angeles County (California) Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR) to assist with the search and rescue efforts.

The USAR component of the DART will be what is called a “heavy team,” bringing more than seventy specialized personnel and all necessary equipment to make live rescues in even the most precarious situations.

“On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand who have been affected by this devastating earthquake,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “We stand ready to assist the government of New Zealand in any way we can.

The US Ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner who departed Christchurch with a CODEL before the earthquake is tweeting here. His partner, Dr. McWaine also tweets here.

Check out the US Embassy New Zealand web page here for Christchurch Earthquake and Resources.  More about the 6.3 earthquake from the USGS here.

Map from CIA World Factbook/Regional Map

FS blogger and EFM, Noble Glomads was in Christchurch during the quake.  Amy also posted a brief video of the earthquake on behalf of Adrian in Life in the Land of the Long White Cloud with the following note:

“Adrian won’t be blogging today. His computer is under the rubble that was his hotel. You will have to make due with my amteur attempts. Adrian is safe after getting evacuated to Aukland late last night. I was able to get on a C130 earlier to Wellington. We are both shaken up but unhurt. Some video I managed to take from where I was standing when the quake hit.”

State Dept unable to move dependents and staff out of #Libya … why?

The State Department ordered the voluntary departure of family members from the US mission in Tripoli on Sunday. Yesterday, that became an ordered departure which means, the ambassador has determined that the situation has deteriorated to a point that family members and certain employees should leave post for their safety.  

Today PJ Crowley talks about State being “not able to move any of them out of the country” and moving the staff and family members out of Libya “over the next few days.” Which is kinda confusing considering that he also said the airport in Tripoli remains open and we’re talking about 35 individuals, plus whatever is the number of private Americans who requested to be evacuated. 

The spokesman said that the embassy dependents and staff members “are prepared to leave” and yet they were unable to leave. This bring us to the possibility that the Libyan government is causing problems over their departure … ?  This is the same government who sent thugs to arrest two Swiss citizens in Libya (one of them the director of the Libyan office of the technology company ABB) after one of the Gaddafi sons was jailed for alleged physical abused of members of his domestic staff in Switzerland. 

[T]urning to Libya, yesterday the Department ordered U.S. Embassy family members and non-emergency personnel to depart Libya, and they will depart over the next few days. The safety of all American citizens in Libya remains our paramount concern. At our Embassy, we have approximately 35 employees and their families who are affected by this ordered departure. We continue to evaluate a range of transportation options to help them depart, along with other U.S. citizens who are present in Libya.

The airport in Tripoli remains open, but it is kind of a very challenging circumstance at the airport currently. Many international air carriers are increasing the number of seats available to respond to the demand for flights from Libya. And for American citizens who are there, they should maintain contact with their airline if they have tickets to depart.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that real quickly?


QUESTION: Just on the evacuation question. Can you tell us why they weren’t able to move out of the country already? My understanding was there was some expectation they would have done so yesterday.

MR. CROWLEY: We are – as I said, we have some options. We’ve been in touch with airlines, asking them – those that have regular commercial service and have been allowed to land in Tripoli – to perhaps send larger aircraft so that there are more seats available for those who wish to depart. We have charter flights standing by to travel to the airport if necessary. This is something that we continue to work with Libyan authorities. But the fact is, today we were not able to move any of our personnel out of the country.


QUESTION: And why was that?

QUESTION: Can you – first of all – hold on a second. I want to understand why that is the case. And then is it not true that some of them did go to the airport and then for some reason did not leave the country?

MR. CROWLEY: Kirit, I’m —

QUESTION: Why they didn’t leave already, and is it not true that some of them went to the airport and then did not board flights?

MR. CROWLEY: I think I just said for our official party, we are not able to move any of them out of the country today. And we will do our best, working with Libyan authorities, to move them out as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: And would you – are you considering any sort of sea routes as opposed – or overland routes as opposed to the airport?

MR. CROWLEY: We are evaluating, as are other countries – we’re not in this – other countries have made similar decisions to ours. They are looking for the safest course of evacuation. Land is an option, sea is an option, the commercial airport is open. Obviously, there are a great many people who are trying to depart Tripoli currently, so – and – but we’re working this with Libyan authorities.

QUESTION: And do you consider the airport to be a safe place for people to be right now?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, we’ve made this decision because we are concerned about the safety of our citizens, and – but we’re working as hard as we can to help our citizens depart.

QUESTION: P.J., number one, recognizing that it’s not a completely accurate figure, how many Americans are there registered with the Embassy in Libya?

MR. CROWLEY: Matt, it’s a good question. There are several thousand American citizens in Libya. Most of them are dual-nationals. Of those who have American citizenship, we’re talking in maybe the 600 range, give or take. Now, some of them work for energy companies, and as you’ve seen and reported, they themselves are shutting down their operations and making their way out of the country today. So as to how many require assistance from the Embassy, hard to know at this point. Our Embassy itself, as you can see in the numbers, it’s a relatively small post.
QUESTION: P.J., could you clarify the forced – the ordered departure? Could you clarify? You said you couldn’t get them out. Were there actually charter flights on the ground and you couldn’t —


QUESTION: There were not? Were the people gathered there as you were trying —

MR. CROWLEY: Again, Jill, I can’t give you a play-by-play from here. Our family members, the 35 or so that are affected by this, are prepared to leave. They may well be at the airport. I don’t know. I’m sure there are American citizens at the airport who are attempting to leave. We are going to do everything in our power to help them. But right now, we’re working through existing commercial airline arrangements. We have the ability to bring in charters or other means to get people out if that becomes necessary. But that also requires the support of the Libyan Government.

QUESTION: So what —

QUESTION: So in other words, the Libyan Government said you cannot do this? They —

MR. CROWLEY: No, the Libyan Government has said that they will cooperate as we remove our citizens. And we are working with them on these arrangements.
QUESTION: My last question on Libya: You said that your priority now is to secure the evacuation of American citizens. Is this something that you were worried that the Libyan Government might retaliate from the American citizen if you speak up loudly or criticize them?

MR. CROWLEY: We obviously are concerned about the safety of our citizens. We’re working with the Libyan Government. They’ve pledged to support us in our evacuation, and we hope that cooperation will be forthcoming.

The Guardian reported on 22 February 2011 20.59 GMT that the UK is scrambling to match the rescue efforts of other countries evacuating their citizens from Libya, redeploying a Royal Navy warship and trying to get permission to send a charter plane to Tripoli in the next 48 hours.

“At a press conference, the foreign secretary announced that officials were now working with airline companies to get an aircraft out of Libya and would also be chartering their own plane, although it had not yet been given permission to land. Hague said HMS Cumberland would be redeployed from the eastern Mediterranean to berth in international waters off the coast, with a view to being given permission to enter Libyan waters in the event of a sea-borne evacuation of British citizens.”

Foreign governments need permission from the Libyan govt to land, to enter its territorial waters, etc….which makes everything dicey and dangerous if that government is hanging by a thread at the edge of a deep cliff…

Map from CIA World Factbook/Regional Map