Monday, January 31, 2011

US Embassy Egypt: 1,200 Evacuees to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey on Day#1

'Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire' (The Sphinx Armach...Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

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

We have tried to keep tabs of the evac flights taking American evacuees (non-essential personnel, dependents and private Amcits) out of Egypt today. Here is what we know: approximately 1,200 people were evacuated from Cairo on Monday, January 31st with the first flight going to Larnaca, Cyprus. An additional two flights also went to Larnaca.  Three flights departed for Athens and three more flights left for Istanbul. So nine flights and some 1,200 people on day #1 of the evacuation.

A note on the posts staffing since they would constitute the immediate support at this time at the safe-havens: The US Embassy in Nicosia is a medium-size post with a two-officer consular section.  Post is noted for the work it did during the 15,000 Amcit evacuation out of Lebanon in 2006. The US posts in Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul, Adana) have approximately 16 officers and 30 or so local employees.  (FS blogger, the slow move east is in Istanbul, get some sleep now, hannah!). Not sure how big is the consular section in Athens but it is presumably comparable or even larger  than Turkey. Of course, posts normally draft other officers in the mission and not just Consular Officers to staff round the clock duties like this. 

We also understand that Consular Affairs is sending over three dozens consular officers to Cairo and the safe-haven locations. But unless they left yesterday, a Sunday, they could still be in route to their destinations today.

We're hearing that there will be more flights for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 1—also from Cairo Airport, throughout the day. We'll keep you posted if we know more.

An update on our FS blogger in Cairo: The Sherwood Family Nonsense told us that they (she and three kids) have arrived safely in Athens, while their FSO remained at the Cairo airport assisting evacuees out of Egypt. Excerpt:

We're in Athens, some went to Istanbul, some went to Bahrain, and perhaps some other places.  The rumor was that twelve planes were chartered to shuttle people out.  We were number four and arrived in Athens at 9:00 pm.  We got to our hotel at midnight.

We were all very much surprised about the evacuation, as evident by my post about the situation a few days ago, nobody thought that things would downgrade so quickly.  I wanted to stay very much, but we had some friends in the branch whose advice I trust very much strongly advise us to go, so we went.  I hoped until the very last minute that it would be called off and we could stay, but now we're here and there's no returning for thirty days.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking that perhaps it will all clear up and we can stay... but of course we're already gone.
Read more from her post here.

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