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Good gawd, we can’t even get people evacuated from Beirut.

July 18, 2006

U.S. student worries about evacuation – Mideast/N. Africa – Excerpts posted below:
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Joanne Nucho just finished packing 30 pounds of her life into a bag.

An American Ph.D. student studying at the American University in Beirut, Nucho does not know when or where, but she plans to leave her dormitory room within the next few hours at a moment’s notice.

Nucho is one of several thousand Americans caught in the crossfire between the militant group Hezbollah located in Lebanon and the Israeli army, awaiting further instruction from the U.S. State Department to evacuate.

She will either leave by helicopter — which has already removed 64 U.S. citizens from harm’s way — or by a 750-passenger cruise ship, which was hired by the government to help evacuate the estimated 5,000 citizens seeking rescue. [Even I see an issue with 5000 people needing to be evacuated and 750 passenger cruise ship, and what IS it that they have with cruise ships and evacuees?]

Nucho does not even know what she’s allowed to pack. The State Department told her she’s allowed a 30-pound duffel bag, but she has heard rumors that she will not be allowed to a camera or her laptop — her main method of communicating with relatives over the last year.

A U.S. Embassy statement instructed American citizens to be ready to leave and said further instructions would be publicized by local media and on the embassy’s Web site. The embassy said each person would be allowed to carry one bag weighing no more than 30 pounds.

“As of now, the talk of sleeping on streets and not being able to put laptops in the one bag we do take with us are unconfirmed rumors that we are desperately hoping are untrue,” Nucho said. “However, we do know for a fact that the French have just left and they were allowed to take entire suitcases, whereas we will only be able to take a tote bag.”

Nucho added that all evacuees have signed promissory notes pledging to pay the U.S. back for safe passage to Cyprus, plus interest. Once in Cyprus, she said the government would not pay for hotel fees nor a return flight to the U.S. [Pretty much analagous to the Katrina victims, eh?]
The end of the articles states State Dept. info that says “we will also work with commercial aircraft to ensure that they have adequate flights to help you depart Cyprus and connect to your final destination.” One aircraft? Seems to me like air lines would be the way to go, since U.S. Citizens are on their own once they reach Cyprus. Government service??? Yeah, right….


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