Sunday, January 30, 2011

Governments Scramble to Get Citizens Out of Egypt

Evacuating citizens from a country in turmoil even on a small scale is no easy task. When you take into account tens-of-thousands of citizens in the country that may need to be evacuated, especially since you likely do not have a fixed position on most, the prospect is a daunting one.

"Governments started arranging for planes on Sunday to bring home citizens stuck in Egypt, where violent protests of the rule of President Hosni Mubarak have given way in some parts of Cairo to looting.

The United States and Turkey offered to evacuate citizens wanting to leave and major airlines including Lufthansa and Air India said they would send additional planes to Cairo and Alexandria.

The Greek foreign ministry said at least two Greek military aircraft were on standby.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dispatched his presidential plane to Egypt to pick up Iraqi citizens, and the transport ministry ordered free transportation for Iraqis living in Egypt on Iraqi Airways planes, a ministry spokesman said.

Some European companies started evacuating their staff, and witnesses reported scenes of chaos at Cairo Airport, as people, including Egyptians, tried to catch a decreasing number of operational flights.

U.S.-based Delta Air Lines Inc, for instance, said on Friday it was suspending its service into Cairo indefinitely.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs said on CNN television that U.S.-government sponsored flights will be leaving Cairo on Monday.
The Japanese government was preparing to use chartered planes to fly out 600 Japanese national stranded in or around Cairo, Kyodo news agency reported.
Some countries advised their citizens to leave Egypt or avoid traveling to its major cities if possible, although Russian and German tourists at Red Sea resorts have made no move to cut short their holidays.

Britain recommended its citizens leave Cairo, Suez and Alexandria "where it is safe to do so." The U.S. State Department moved to reduce diplomatic staff in Egypt, authorizing the voluntary departure of diplomats and nonessential workers.

The Philippines foreign ministry readied a 25 million pesos ($567,000) standby emergency fund for the evacuation of about 6,600 Filipinos if necessary, while Thailand advised some 2,600 Thais in the country to stay put.

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