The State Department is evacuating U.S. citizens from Libya on Wednesday using a chartered ferry, with the assistance of the Libyan government.
The U.S. government's chartered ferry is expected to depart the As-shahab Port in central Tripoli en route for Valletta, Malta, on Wednesday, the State Department said. Those onboard are required to have their travel documents in order in advance and are allowed one suitcase and one carry-on item. Pets are only allowed if they met stringent European Union requirements and will probably be quarantined for six weeks upon arrival in Malta.
"U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared to wait several hours. Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers and other necessary toiletries with them to the pier," the State Department advisory warned.
U.S. citizens are required to sign an agreement to reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of the ferry trip at a later date. They will also enjoy no further travel assistance once they reach Malta. Prospective evacuees with questions can contact the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli at LibyaEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling +1-202-501-4444.
The State Department ordered all embassy family members and non-emergency personnel to leave Libya on Monday. The U.S. government was also preparing to send chartered planes to Tripoli's airport -- which is still in service -- if the commercial carriers operating there are unable to evacuate all the American citizens there. However, Libyan permission for the U.S. government to bring in chartered planes has not been granted.
There are about 6,000 American citizens in Libya, many of whom have dual nationalities, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Tuesday. 35 U.S. Embassy employees and their families were affected by the order for non-emergency personnel to depart and are reportedly on the ferry due to leave on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the situation in Libya on Tuesday afternoon.
"Now, as always, the safety and well-being of Americans has to be our highest priority, and we are in touch with many Libyan officials directly and indirectly and with other governments in the region to try to influence what is going on inside Libya," she said.
"As we gain a greater understanding of what actually is happening … we will take appropriate steps in line with our policies, our values, and our laws. But we're going to have to work in concert with the international community."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.