State Department Actions To Ensure Welfare and Safety of U.S. Citizens in Egypt

Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs
Washington, DC
January 31, 2011

As Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, I want to take this opportunity to provide an update on actions the State Department is taking to ensure the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens in Egypt.

Flights have begun carrying U.S citizens to safe havens in Europe where travelers are being met by consular officers who are providing them information they can use to find lodging and make onward travel plans. We have sent more than three dozen additional consular officers to Egypt and to our safe haven locations to assist U.S. citizens. And as is always the case in crisis situations, personnel from throughout our Embassy in Cairo and Embassies in designated safe haven locations are also focusing on assistance to U.S. citizens.

We have evacuated hundreds of U.S. citizens today, January 31st, aboard several flights. We expect many more to fly out tomorrow and the coming days. We understand that some commercial flights continue to fly in and out of Egypt. U.S. citizens may also wish to take advantage of these flight options. The airport in Cairo is not subject to curfew and will operate 24/7. However, American citizens wishing to be evacuated are advised to avoid traveling to the airport during curfew hours of 3 p.m. to 8 a.m.

We ask U.S. citizens and their immediate family members to verify that they have valid travel documents before proceeding to the airport. If U.S. citizens lack valid U.S. passports, they should go to the Embassy to be documented for travel. Non-U.S. citizen family members should consult with the appropriate officials from our designated safe haven destinations to ensure that they have required entry documents.

While we’re making every effort to expedite evacuation of U.S. citizens, they should be prepared to wait at the airport. So far, more than 2,500 citizens have contacted us to express their desire to be evacuated, but we know that many more are proceeding directly to the airport without advising us ahead of time.

More detailed information for U.S. citizens in Egypt can be found on our website Travel.State.Gov. We’re also disseminating this information via email, social media, radio and television. However, we’re finding that many U.S. citizens in Egypt are receiving information by landline telephones from their friends and family outside of Egypt. So thank you for helping get these important messages to U.S. citizens in Egypt. Please let them know that their safety and security is our top priority at the Department of State. We evacuated about 16,000 U.S. citizens and their family members from Haiti after the earthquake last year and 15,000 citizens and family members from Lebanon in 2006. You have our promise that we’ll continue flights out of Egypt until we’ve evacuated every citizen who wishes to leave the country.