Sunday, January 16, 2011

Authorized Departure for Tunis

U.S. Embassy Tunis sent out a warden message tonight:

The Department of State has authorized the departure of Embassy family members from Tunisia. U.S. citizens in Tunisia should closely examine their security situation in light of this and other recent developments and consider departing Tunisia. The U.S. Department of State has arranged for a chartered aircraft to transport departing personnel to Rabat, Morocco on early Tuesday morning, January 18, 2011.

Read the entire message here.

No doubt nerves are jangled as members of the embassy community get organized to move themselves and others to the airport on Tuesday morning. I understand that Tunisian troops at checkpoints are firing rounds in the air as a compliance tactic when they order vehicles to stop. Alarming, for sure, but so far I've seen no reports of deaths or injuries among expatriates in Tunis.

However, some British tourists stranded there have a complaint against British Airways. Check out this alarming headline:

1,500 Britons brave machete mobs: Anger at BA for flying tourists INTO war zone despite official warning:

Among [the stranded] were holidaymakers who were actually flown in to the North African country by British Airways on Friday, when the violence was at its height and the Foreign Office was warning Britons to leave.

-- snip --

Although package operators such as Thomas Cook and Tui, which owns First Choice and Thomson,laid on emergency flights to bring all their passengers home as soon as violence flared, BA has said it cannot change its schedule and the next flight home will not be until Wednesday.

I can imagine the dilemma. Let's say you're a Brit with a week or two of winter vacation and you want to spend it someplace warm. Tunisia is a highly popular destination. It's last Thursday, and you have nonrefundable tickets to Tunis on BA. Maybe you saw something on TV about the natives getting restless somewhere abroad, but no one really pays that much attention to the news. You call BA, and a guy there tells you that everything is cool.

So you took a little risk, and somehow you got stuck. Now you need lawyers, guns and money, just like the old song says:


Ando said...

Perhaps it is a good time for a shameless plug for STEP, the Smart Travel Enrollment Program for American Citizens traveling abroad.

Please register with the local (and friendly) American Citizen Services Unit online to receive local updates about situations on the ground & for better assistance in the case of an emergency.

Information can be provided at the following website:

spectrummymummy said...

Time for the Weekly State Department Round Up and you're on it. Please let me know if you would like to be removed, broken links etc.