Posted: 6:48 pm EDT
Updated: 7:23 pm EDT
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On April 13, we posted about US Embassy Djibouti’s ongoing response to the crisis in Yemen (see US Embassy Djibouti Welcomes 140 American Evacuees From Yemen, Thanks India and Djibouti For Help). We sent Ambassador Tom Kelly a consular staffing question on Twitter and he responded.
Hey, ain’t Twitter great!
Approximately 300 U.S. citizens and family members have made it to Djibouti to date. Below is a quick rundown of evacuees:
We asked about consular staffing support because we anticipate that the evacuees coming from Yemen would have a good number of undocumented family members. Not all embassy staffers are well-versed in citizenship and passport regulations. So we are pleased to hear that reinforcements are there with more in the works.
Ambassador Kelly was nominated to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti on On April 7, 2014. He assumed the ambassadorial duties on September 8, 2014. Prior to this appointment, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs from August 2011 to September 2014.
Updated with details from April 8 Daily Press Briefing:
QUESTION: Right. The ambassador said today earlier, I think, that they were getting reinforcements to help. What does that mean?
MS HARF: Yeah, so I have some – yep, I have some more information on that. So while awaiting security screening and processing by Djiboutian immigration officials, U.S. citizens and their families have been offered food, water, medical attention, hygiene items, infant care items, access to phones to contact relatives, and when feasible, a place to – it’s quite hot there; I think a place to stay and remain that’s out of the heat and a little more comfortable. These have been – much of this food and the items have been provided by embassy employees and local staff, which I think is important. The Department of Homeland Security has granted exceptional authority for the consular team in Djibouti to accept and approve immigrant visa petitions for spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens. The State Department is working to transfer immigrant visa cases for recently arrived refugees to Djibouti. We are also increasing consular staffing in Djibouti in order to process petitions for immigrant visa cases as quickly as possible; also to help Yemeni – help U.S. citizens with Yemeni family members find long-term housing while they work through their options here.
So we are doing a number of things in Djibouti. This is where many of people – the people leaving Yemen have gone. Our ambassador, I think, is sharing some of these experiences on Twitter, so I’d check those out as well.
QUESTION: Yeah, that’s where that came – but do you have a rough estimate? Is it a couple hundred people? How many are we talking about?
MS HARF: We’re not exactly sure. We’ve – I think he tweeted something like 149 or something like that. We know of a couple hundred; we just don’t know if that’s everyone.
MS HARF: So we don’t know how accurate it is.
QUESTION: But that doesn’t – that’s only the ones who have American citizenship. That might not include —
MS HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — their families and spouses.
MS HARF: That is my understanding.
QUESTION: And so when you have – DHS has given your – are they sending people there, or is it they’ve just basically delegated —
MS HARF: Our – I think our consular team is sending additional people there.
QUESTION: So if you are a – the wife of an American citizen who is trying to get an immigrant visa, what’s the timeframe we’re talking about – looking at here?
MS HARF: I don’t know what the timeframe is. I’m happy to check. I don’t know.
QUESTION: But they would have to stay, though, in Djibouti until —
MS HARF: Well, they couldn’t come to the United States, ostensibly.
QUESTION: Okay. So —
MS HARF: Right.
QUESTION: But the process, though, is not a short one, is it? I mean, it’s —
MS HARF: I – Matt, I —
QUESTION: I’m not saying – I’m not making the argument that it is.
MS HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check. I don’t know.
QUESTION: Okay. All right.