Posted by: sean | July 17, 2006

Evacuation plans

The American embassy is a mess this morning. They would not let anyone inside the embassy; instead, they handed out registration forms and a list of things to bring in a “small bag” in an evacuation. We were told that “hopefully” there would be an evacuation this week, probably to Cyprus, however, they did not know how. To evacuate, it is necessary to pay, but if you don’t have enough money, you must sign a promissory note. The rules for who can evacuate are this: American citizens only. If your children are not citizens, they can come, so long as they are minors. Non-American parents who have children (minors) that are American nationals must choose which parent will go with the children and which will stay. Green card holders cannot go. Non-American spouses of American citizens cannot go. Families will be split up.

The French are not splitting up families and have already started their evacuation. French residents, myself included, are not allowed to go. It is unclear if they are leaving by air, land or sea, but I don’t think that it’s by sea. The Dutch left this morning by bus to Aleppo. I have heard, but cannot confirm, that the Italians are stuck in a bus, because they cannot leave by sea due to the Israeli shelling of the ports. I’m not sure if they are stuck at a port or if they detoured from the port and are trying to leave by land now. Two British warships arrived last night, although they have not called my friend with a British passport. There is no word from the Australian embassy, and the Jordanians evacuated by bus several days ago, although a Jordanian friend of mine missed that bus, because she has two passports and was not registered with the Jordanians.

UNESCO is planning on evacuating people out of Beirut to the city of Jbeil (Byblos), but there is no word on leaving Lebanon.

It seems like none of the Western countries were able to negotiate safe passage by sea with the Israelis, which is highly surprising but would explain why the Israelis decided to hit so many ports this weekend. The word is that 8 Canadians were killed last night, although again, it’s impossible for me to confirm this.

I am thinking about taking advantage of the lull in attacks on the northern road into Syria to try to get to the border and bribe my way into a transit visa so that I can get to Turkey. A Dutch friend of mine who evacuated this morning with her compatriots told me that the road was passable. Prices seem to be dropping a bit for taxis, since the Israelis have taken a break from bombing the roads, so it looks like a taxi to Tripoli would be around $100, and probably a similar price for the rest of the trip to Syria. Once inside Syria, the prices should be normal, which is to say cheap. From the Turkish border, I could stay with friends in Mersin and then make my way to Istanbul, where I have friends and could negotiate a flight to Paris with one of the two Turkish Airways tickets that I have. I don’t really fancy waiting a week or more for the Americans, and once in Cyprus, I’ll be on my own, and I’m pretty sure that Turkish Airways does not fly to Cyprus.

I was called this morning at the school where I had taken my first Arabic class the morning Hizbollah attacked Israel. The woman from the school asked if I was leaving or not, so that they could try to organize themselves for the classes that had already begun. I told her that I was not sure when I would be leaving but that I was pretty sure that I would not be continuing my classes with them. She told me to be careful and said that she would pray for me to get out safely. Then she left me with a touching but disconcerting request: “Please pray for my country.” I can’t remember the last time I prayed, but I said I would.



  1. Hi Sean,

    I met you in Paris through David who gave me the address of your blog. I am working for SHS, you remember?
    I am very much concerned that you are in Lebanon. You must be going through really a hard time…I hope you will be able to get out of the country soon and can come back to Paris safely.

    All the best,
    Orio Ikebe

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