U.S. Setting Up Flights for Evacuations of Americans in Egypt
The U.S. State Department intends to evacuate approximately 900 Americans from Egypt to “safe havens” today, more than one-third of the 2,400 people who have contacted the department seeking evacuation assistance, the agency said today.
“We are employing every communications medium -- websites, e-mail, call centers, radio, and TV -- to get information out to U.S. citizens on the ground,” Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs said yesterday. “U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so.”
The department is sending additional personnel to Egypt to help Americans and will “locate additional officers at the safe haven points,” Jacobs said.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo is open with a reduced staff to provide emergency services for citizens.
The Defense Department has provided a plane to help evacuate Americans and is reviewing contingency plans for dealing with any spillover from the turmoil in Egypt, a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Colonel David Lapan, told reporters at the Pentagon today.
“We have any number of contingency plans” and “reviewing them in case they’re needed,” said Lapan, who declined to provide details.
The State Department also is chartering planes to help U.S. citizens leave Egypt, using postings on the Twitter Inc. social network to publicize a website, telephone number (1-888-407- 4747) and e-mail address (EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov) for Americans stranded in the country. Another Twitter posting provided a separate number (1-202-501-444) for people concerned about a “U.S. citizen loved one” in Egypt.
The department warned on Twitter that “Americans should prepare for a substantial wait at the airport in Cairo -- bring food, water & other necessities.”
The airport would remain open 24 hours a day, the State Department said.
More than 175 U.S. passengers were boarding an Athens-bound flight just after noon Washington time. More than 220 Americans have been evacuated from Egypt so far, the State Department said.
The Pentagon hasn’t put a hold on the $1.3 billion in annual military assistance it provides Egypt, aid that’s tied to the Arab nation’s 1979 peace agreement with Israel.
“There has been no change” in the flow of aid to Egypt, Lapan said.
After White House press secretary Robert Gibbs last week said the U.S. would be reviewing its “assistance posture” toward Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on ABC’s “This Week” program yesterday that “there is no discussion as of this time of cutting off any aid.”
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