WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department will begin charter flights from Cairo on Monday to evacuate American citizens to “safe havens” in nearby Mediterranean countries, said Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs.
Following are key facts about the plan to help as many as several thousand U.S. citizens fly out of Egypt to escape anti-government unrest:
Flight destinations have not been finalized, but the State Department is looking at Istanbul, Turkey; Nicosia, Cyprus; and Athens, Greece, Jacobs said. Flights from Alexandria or other cities in Egypt might be necessary if large pockets of U.S. citizens there cannot reach Cairo, she said.
Consular authorities do not have a precise figure for the number of U.S. citizens in Egypt, as they record only those residents or visitors who register with the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Jacobs estimated that it would take “several flights over a number of days” to take out as many as several thousand U.S. citizens from Egypt and said the flights will continue until as long as there is demand for them.
To disseminate flight information, the State Department has set up the website firstname.lastname@example.org and the telephone numbers 1-888-407-4747, for calls inside the United States, and 1-202-501-4444, for calls from overseas.
“We are relying on people to actually reach out to us to let us know” if they want to leave Egypt, said Jacobs.
U.S. citizens who wish to take a charter flight will have to sign a promissory note agreeing to reimburse the government for the fare at rates comparable commercial flights, she said.
Jacobs said the United States is advising its citizens in Egypt to “limit their movements and shelter in place to the extent that they can,” observe the curfew set by the government and avoid protest areas. U.S. citizens should not rush to Cairo airport before verifying flight schedules, said Jacobs.
Reporting by Paul Eckert; editing by Chris Wilson