SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

Palestine | International

U.S., European countries work to vacate nationals from Lebanon
by Haaretz (reposted)
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 11:02 AM
"We are looking at how we might transport Americans to Cyprus. Once in Cyprus, Americans can then board commercial aircraft for onward travel," an embassy statement said.

The State Department said Friday that Americans in Lebanon should consider leaving when it is safe to do so, and officials made contingency plans for the evacuation of people who cannot leave on their own.
"Our best advice is for people to assess their security situation," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday. "Right now ... from the U.S. government perspective, there aren't any reliable ways to get out by air, land or sea."

The U.S. estimates 25,000 Americans live or work in Lebanon, but U.S. officials assume that far fewer would choose to leave if they could.

Saturday's embassy statement said the State Department was continuing to work "around the clock" with the Defense Department on a plan to help American citizens leave Lebanon safely.

A statement posted on the embassy's Web site on Friday urged Americans in Lebanon to be extremely vigilant and avoid non-essential travel because of the escalating violence in the conflict with Israel.

European nations lined up ferries, buses and airplanes to evacuate thousands of their citizens from Lebanon.

France, which has historic ties to Lebanon and 17,000 citizens residing there, announced plans Saturday to ferry French nationals to Cyprus where Air France flights would be waiting to bring them to Paris. The voluntary evacuations will begin Sunday. In addition to French residents, up to 6,000 other Europeans were estimated to be in Lebanon.

However, France was also clearly preparing for the worst, sending two tactical transport C 160 aircraft with three helicopters to Cyprus as well as a transport vessel with two hospital units and four more helicopters - to leave for the region on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said. The frigate Jean de Vienne was ordered deployed in the eastern Mediterranean. The ministry called the measures "precautionary."

"We want to take all the necessary measures for the security of our citizens," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said at the end of a crisis meeting on Saturday. The government would evaluate the situation in Lebanon "hour by hour," he said. He did not raise the possibility of mandatory evacuations.

More
http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/738700.html
by reposted
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 11:08 AM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The fighting that erupted in Lebanon has prompted the Pentagon to develop scenarios for evacuating American citizens, estimated to number around 25,000, military sources told CNN.

The rapid widening of the Mideast conflict this week has created great concern in the U.S. government, which doesn't want Americans in Lebanon caught in the middle of a shooting war.

Such moves would start small, if they happen at all, the sources said. There has been no immediate request for help and no order to move any military personnel.

The State Department has set up a Middle East Task Force to coordinate policy and share information. Defense Department officials are part of the team to talk about any possible plans for American evacuation -- a customary move, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

While "contingency planning" is being done, no evacuations were under way, McCormack told reporters. Americans were being asked to stay in contact with the American Embassy.

More
http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/07/14/lebanon.us.citizens/index.html
by ALJ
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 4:22 PM
Foreign governments are drawing up plans for a voluntary evacuation of their nationals from Lebanon as Israel kept up air strikes against its neighbour in retaliation for attacks by Hezbollah militants.

Britain is to send two Royal Navy warships to the Middle East as part of the contingency plans for a possible evacuation, the ministry of defence said in London on Saturday.

A ministry of defence spokeswoman said the aircraft carrier Illustrious and the warship Bulwark would shortly be sent to the Middle East, but she would not comment on news reports that they would be used to evacuate Britons from the area.

"As you would expect we are monitoring the situation closely and are engaging in prudent contingency planning," said the spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

"As part of this HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark will shortly head toward the region. They have been given no specific tasking."

Britain also advised its citizens not to attempt to leave Lebanon under their own steam and said it had not yet made a decision on whether to evacuate its nationals. There are 10,00 Britons in Lebanon, plus a further 10,000 with joint nationality.

France, Italy and Sweden followed Britain's lead in preparing to evacuate their citizens, mainly by land to Syria or by ferry to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

More
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7FE59CBC-6BEA-45C0-921A-576E90A8389D.htm
by reposted
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 4:26 PM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans could be evacuated from Lebanon using an "air bridge" of fast-moving aircraft, U.S. military officials said Saturday.

Pentagon and U.S. State Department officials are working on contingency plans to get about 25,000 people out of Lebanon to escape Israel's military campaign, launched after two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah guerrillas.

An "air bridge" is the term for planes that would move in swiftly and ferry people out in quick succession.

Planners are focusing on flying people from the Lebanese capital of Beirut to the island of Cyprus, officials said.

More
http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/07/15/lebanon.us.citizens/index.html
by reposted
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 4:27 PM
PARIS, France (AP) -- European nations lined up ferries, buses and airplanes to evacuate thousands of their citizens from Lebanon, increasingly under siege from Israeli attacks.

France, which has historic ties to Lebanon and 17,000 citizens residing there, announced plans Saturday to ferry French nationals to Cyprus where Air France flights would be waiting to bring them to Paris.

The voluntary evacuations will begin Sunday. In addition to French residents, up to 6,000 other French citizens were estimated to be in Lebanon visiting.

"We want to take all the necessary measures for the security of our citizens," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said at the end of a crisis meeting Saturday morning. The government would evaluate the situation in Lebanon "hour by hour" and adapt measures if needed, he said. He did not raise the possibility of mandatory evacuations.

More
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/15/lebanon.europeans.ap/index.html
by BBC (reposted)
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 4:27 PM
Defence Secretary Des Browne has given orders for HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark to "make ready" for operations off Lebanon.

The pair will depart as soon as necessary, possibly within 24 hours.

No order for evacuating UK citizens has yet been given, but ministers and defence staff are considering a plan to evacuate those trapped in Lebanon.

It comes as Israel has stepped up its strikes in Lebanon after Hezbollah militants seized two Israeli soldiers.

'Contingency planning'

HMS Illustrious is currently in Gibraltar and HMS Bulwark is close to Barcelona in Spain.

The decision whether to proceed with an evacuation plan has not yet been taken and no orders have been given.

More
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5184018.stm
by BBC (reposted)
Saturday Jul 15th, 2006 4:28 PM
Foreign governments are putting plans in place to evacuate citizens who are trapped in the escalating crisis in Lebanon.

Britain is sending two ships, including an aircraft carrier, to the Middle East and has warned citizens to have their travel papers in order for a quick departure.

However the ministry of defence said no "specific tasking" had yet been allotted to HMS Illustrious and HMS Bulwark.

The Foreign Office, which estimates there are about 10,000 Britons in Lebanon, said it had not yet advised them to leave, but to "keep a low profile and exercise caution".

The United States says there are about 25,000 US citizens in Lebanon.

It is working on a contingency plan to transport them to Cyprus.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of France said "sea and air facilities, both civilian and military" would be made available to its citizens.

France, which has 20,000 citizens in the country, has chartered a ferry and sent two warships to the area. Helicopters, landing craft and a mobile hospital would be available.

Italy has sent a convoy of about 400 citizens from Beirut towards Syria but Israeli fire has reportedly halted it at Tripoli.

Rome is sending a naval ship and two C130 transport aircraft. It has 1,000 citizens in Lebanon.

Germany has not announced specific plans to evacuate its 1,100 nationals.

The foreign ministry has advised citizens not to travel to Lebanon and told nationals already in Beirut to seek shelter in safer areas.

In other evacuation news:

* Turkey says 32 nationals have crossed the Turkish/Syrian border by bus

* An Olympic Airlines plane brings 50 Greeks from Lebanon to Athens via Damascus

* More than 100 Spaniards arrive in Madrid on board a transport plane chartered by the defence ministry

* Morocco is evacuating several dozen nationals on C130 transport planes

* The governments of 1,600 Ukrainians, 500 Bulgarians, 700 Poles, 2,000 Swedes and 600 Dutch are making contingency plans for those who wish to leave

* The United Arab Emirates sends six aircraft to bring home citizens who have fled to Syria.

More
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5184134.stm