As Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, I want to affirm the State Department’s commitment to the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens around the world and particularly in Egypt during this time.
We are sending aircraft to transport U.S citizens who wish to leave Egypt to safe havens in Europe. Upon arrival, U.S. consular officers are assisting them in making lodging and onward travel plans. We will continue evacuation efforts to facilitate the safe transport of every U.S. citizen who wishes to leave the country.
Even as non-emergency Embassy personnel and family members depart Egypt, we are sending more consular officers into the country and to our safe haven locations. Routine services at our Embassy in Cairo, such as visa issuance, have been interrupted to permit our total focus on emergency assistance to U.S. citizens.
We have evacuated hundreds of U.S. citizens. We expect more to fly out tomorrow and in the coming days. We are monitoring the situation in Egypt closely and will adapt our evacuation operations in accordance with the situation on the ground.
You’ll find the most up-to-date information for U.S. citizens in Egypt on our website travel.state.gov. We’re also disseminating this information via email, social media, radio, television and print publications. But you may be our best vehicles for regular communication. We’re finding that many U.S. citizens in Egypt are receiving information by landline telephones from their friends and family outside of Egypt. If you’re in contact with U.S. citizens in Egypt, thank you for passing along updates from our website. And be sure to let them know that their safety and security is our top priority at the Department of State.
The type of unrest occurring in Egypt is not new to the State Department. We have ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and families from our diplomatic missions nearly 300 times since 1988. We draw on a long history of service to U.S. citizens overseas, both routine and in these times of crisis. 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, and we will respond to requests for assistance from U.S. citizens in Egypt with the same level of commitment..