Tuesday, February 1, 2011

State Dept Issues New Travel Warning: Avoid Egypt Travel; Consider Leaving as Soon as You Can Safely Do So

Via travel.state.gov | On February 1, 2011
On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Egypt dated January 28, 2011.  The U.S. Department of State continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt at this time.  U.S. citizens should consider leaving Egypt as soon as they can safely do so, due to ongoing political and social unrest.  Large-scale demonstrations with the potential for violence continue in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria, and other parts of the country, and rail and road travel has been disrupted between cities, and between city centers and airports.  Disruptions in communications, including internet service, also continue.  The Government of Egypt may also disrupt mobile phone service during future demonstrations.  The Government of Egypt modified the curfew times and locations; now 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. throughout Egypt until further notice.  U.S. citizens should obey curfew orders and remain indoors during curfew hours.
U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should monitor international and local media to stay abreast of announcements from the embassy.  Due to the fluid nature of the situation and the volume of phone calls to the embassy, U.S. citizens should not wait for a reply from the embassy or the Department of State before traveling to the nearest airport.  Cairo airport is open and operating, but flights may be delayed or cancelled, and transport to the airport is disrupted, due to the protests.  Travelers should remain in contact with their airlines or tour operators concerning flight schedules, and arrange to arrive at the airport well before curfew hours. 
The U.S. Department of State is making arrangements to provide charter air transportation to safe haven locations in Europe of U.S. citizens and eligible dependents who wish to depart Egypt.  This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law.  U.S. citizens who travel on U.S. Government-arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safe haven location; currently: Larnaca, Cyprus; Istanbul, Turkey; Frankfurt, Germany; and Athens, Greece.  Flights to evacuation points began departing Cairo on Monday, January 31.  There will be a limited number of seats available on future evacuation flights.  Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.  Persons interested in departing Egypt via U.S. Government-arranged chartered transportation should proceed to one of the airports in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, or Aswan. 
U.S. citizens with a valid passport wishing to depart from Cairo may proceed to the Hajj Terminal/VIP Hall (Terminal 1, Hall 4) of the airport after curfew is lifted, currently 8:00 a.m.  For U.S. citizens attempting to depart via Alexandria, airports are all open and there are commercial flights available to U.S. citizens.  If traveling from Luxor, Alexandria, or Aswan airport, be sure to have a confirmed ticket and know the terminal you need before traveling to the airport.  There are two operational airports in Alexandria:

Primary airport: Borg El Arab - two terminals:
-One newer where commercial flights are departing.
-Older terminal where chartered flights are departing and some commercial flights.
Secondary airport: El Nouzha – older, under reconstruction
Passengers must have a ticket in hand, or arrange to purchase a ticket via cell phone or internet.  Tickets are NOT being sold at the airport.
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 their final destination.  Travelers who are not U.S. citizens but are accompanying a U.S. citizen immediate family member (child, spouse, parent of minor child) should have a valid passport.  U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared for a substantial wait at the airport.  Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers, and other necessary toiletries with them to the airport.  Travelers will not be able to choose their destination, and they are permitted only one piece of luggage per person.  Travelers may not bring pets.
In the event of demonstrations, U.S. citizens in Egypt should remain in their residences or hotels until the demonstrations subside.  Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area during that time.  Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in injuries and extensive property damage.  While demonstrations have not been directed toward Westerners, U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security.  The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.  If caught unexpectedly near a demonstration, U.S. citizens should obey instructions from police and leave the area as quickly as possible.  U.S. citizens resident in Egypt should monitor local news broadcasts and U.S. citizen visitors should ask tour guides and hotel officials about any planned demonstrations in the locations they plan to visit.  U.S. citizens should carry identification and a cell phone that works in Egypt.
The U.S. Embassy will be open only for emergency services to U.S. citizens until further notice.  As always, any change to Embassy hours will be posted on the Embassy website.  Family members of U.S. citizens in Egypt may also enroll them in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  U.S. citizens in Egypt, or their loved ones, may contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo via email, or at 1-202-501-4444.  Please follow the directions on the Embassy website for all other consular inquiries.
Current information on travel and security in Egypt may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Egypt, as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Original travel warning posted here.

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