US Embassy Egypt: Ordered Departure Lifted, Issues New Travel Alert

— Domani Spero

On January 6, the State Department issued a new Travel Alert advising U.S. citizens of the risks of travelling to Egypt due to continuing unrest.  The ordered departure of US Embassy Cairo and USCG Alexandria staff have now been lifted but the personnel for the constituent post is still operating out of Cairo pending security upgrades in Alexandria.

The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travelling to Egypt due to the continuing political and social unrest. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on December 18, 2013, and will expire on March 16, 2014.

Based on an assessment of the security situation in Egypt, the Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for U.S. Embassy personnel on November 6, 2013.  The State Department lifted ordered departure status for U.S. Consulate General Alexandria on December 16, 2013. However, Consulate General personnel will be based out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while required facility security upgrades are made.

Political unrest, which intensified after the July 2013 change of government, is likely to continue in the near future. Demonstrations have on numerous occasions resulted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters and between protesters supporting different factions, some of which have resulted on occasion in deaths and injuries to those involved, and property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. Of continued concern is gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the targets of sexual assault. There have been instances of the use of firearms as well. Most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including Cairo and its suburbs, Alexandria, and Port Said.

The security situation in North Sinai, including the major east-west coastal highway and the towns of El Arish, Shaykh Zuwayd, El Gorah and Rafah, has been marked by ongoing violent attacks on Egyptian security personnel and by continuing and frequently intense security operations against the sources of violence. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to North Sinai.

The security situation in most tourist centers, including Luxor, Aswan, the Luxor-Aswan Nile cruise routes, and Red Sea/Southern and Western Sinai resorts such as Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahhab, Nuweiba, and Taba has been calm; U.S. citizens should remain alert to local security developments.

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.

Read in full here.

On the same day, the US Embassy in Cairo issued an Emergency Message with security updates for Coptic Christmas, observed today, the 7th day of January. It recommended that  “U.S. citizens remain vigilant, particularly if visiting Coptic churches over the next 48 hours. If there are signs or indications that a problem exists or is developing the best course of action is to leave the area.”

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2014 Expanded Professional Associates Prog. Open Season Starts This Month For Eligible Family Members

— Domani Spero

The State Department’s 2014 Open Season of the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP) will begin this month. It is open to any Appointment Eligible Family Member (AEFM) of a career (direct hire, not contract) government employee of any federal agency currently serving (or will be serving) in a full-time position overseas under Chief of Mission Authority. For the exact language on who qualifies as an AEFM, see 3 FAM 8212.

A quick summary of the program:

EPAP provides 186 professional level Foreign Service full-time positions, funded centrally, primarily by the Department of State and some through ICASS, to appointment eligible family members (AEFMs) serving overseas. Each Regional Bureau is authorized a number of these positions, as determined by the Under Secretary for Management.

EPAP positions are available in Political, Economic, Public Affairs, Management, Financial Management, General Services, Human Resources, Information Management, Office Management or Medical (physician or nurse) areas. Grades range from FP-07 to FP-04.

Posts identify which positions they would like filled via EPAP and the respective Regional Bureau evaluates and creates a list of positions that HR/FLO will advertise during the open season.The announcement notes that more positions than can be filled are advertised because there is no guarantee that there will be a qualified family member available at post at the right time to apply for every position. The Regional Bureaus make all hiring decisions based on a range of factors. The bureaus may also choose not to fill an advertised position even if there are candidates who are qualified. There can only be 186 filled EPAP positions in total.

The pay grades for the EPAP positions run from  FP-07 which pays about $34,324— $50,406 to FP-04 which has an annual salary of 53,003— $77,837.  According to the announcement published by state.gov  the number of EPAP positions authorized for each Regional Bureau are as follows:

  • Africa/AF 23
  • East Asia Pacific/EAP 35
  • European Affairs/EUR 42
  • International Org/IO 5
  • Near Eastern Affairs/NEA 25
  • South Central Asia/SCA 25
  • Western Hemisphere Affairs/WHA 31

Each Regional Bureau has identified a primary and alternate point of contact who can answer candidates’ questions on specific positions advertised by region.  Click here for contact emails (see item #7).

For those interested in EPAP positions, the process is a two-parter.  Interested applicants must first complete and pass an online Business Writing Test administered by ACT, Inc. (Registration will take place January 27–February 21, 2014 and the testing will take place February 1–28, 2014). Note: The Business Writing Test must be completed by February 28, 2014. Only those applicants who pass the Business Writing Test are eligible to submit an application. The second part of the process is for prospective candidates to submit a completed application package, via USAJobs.gov when the announcement is issued in late February/early March

For additional information on the program, please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) published by state.gov.  For general questions regarding EPAP, e-mail: FLOaskEPAP@state.gov.   Prospective candidates preparing for the open season, are encouraged to read the official information available here.

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