Posted by: sean | July 16, 2006

Evacuation plans and Al-Manara in Beirut

Apparently the US is sending an “assessment team” to Beirut, which may or may not have already arrived. This is the email (they still haven’t managed to get with the program and start sending text messages instead of emails) they sent me today:

The US Department of State and the US Department of Defense continue working on a plan to help American citizens who wish to depart Lebanon to leave in a secure and orderly manner. To assist in the development of that operation, the U.S. Government is sending an assessment team to Beirut to facilitate the safe departure of Americans who wish to leave.

The Embassy is open and will remain open at this time in support of American citizens in Lebanon. American citizens may register by contacting the Embassy in Beirut directly, or through the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs registration site at http://travelregistration.state.gov. For updated information, visit the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov.

Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, or, from overseas, 1-202-501-4444. Additional information, as it becomes available will be released via the media, Embassy warden announcements and on the Department and Embassy websites.

I’ll try to get aboard any evacuation ship to Cyprus I can, but there are scores of thousands of foreigners here, and any evacuation effort will most likely take several days, and families with children and medical cases will be the first to leave. I’ll sign the promissory note saying that I’ll pay the government back, but I still find it scandalous.

I’m a little worried about how much I’ll be able to take back with me. I’ve got a lot of books for my thesis, which I’m supposed to defend in September. But what I’m really worried about are friends of mine who cannot leave Lebanon. Many have headed for towns in the mountains, but it’s hard to say how safe (and for how long) these places will end up being.

Otherwise, I’ve been staying away from the news today, reading and listening to music. I did go down to al Manara (the lighthouse), which was hit by Israel yesterday and is about a 7-10 minute walk from my place. I was actually surprised that the lighthouse was not more damaged (only the top seemed to be damaged). Here’s what it looks like:

My friend is going back to what’s left of his neighborhood in Dahiye (the residential suburb being called a “Hizbollah stronghold” where Hizbollah’s offices are). He’s going to try to take some pictures, which I’ll try to post here.

Otherwise, here is an account of what’s happening here by Robert Fisk, who lives in Beirut.

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Responses

  1. Just surfed in from a google search. Interesting pictures. Stay safe out there in Lebannon.

  2. Just searching around for stories out of there. Good luck, and stay safe.
    I know for a fact though that citizens have to pay to be evacuated any time these sorts of situations happen. Its happened in every other conflict as well.
    As I said earlier, you guys are not forgotten and a lot of us are hoping you remain safe and wish you a safe journey out of there.


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