U.S. Military Aircraft Fly Egyptians Home from Tunisia

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2011 — U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft flew 640 Egyp­tians home today and yes­ter­day from the Tunisia-Libya bor­der where the refugees fled to escape the vio­lence that con­tin­ues between gov­ern­ment forces and rebels in Libya.
Three U.S. Air Force C‑130Js and one U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 flew two dai­ly rota­tions from Djaer­ba, Tunisia, to Cairo, Egypt.

U.S. Africa Com­mand is over­see­ing the effort as part of the ongo­ing U.S. and inter­na­tion­al response to the evolv­ing human­i­tar­i­an emer­gency in that region.

“For pas­sen­ger evac­u­a­tion, four more flights today are mov­ing 328 pas­sen­gers to Egypt,” Africom spokesman Ken­neth Fidler said in an e‑mail.

Most of the pas­sen­gers were men who had been work­ing in Libya before vio­lence flared on Feb. 17 when Libyan leader, Col. Moam­mar Gad­hafi cracked down on pro­test­ers demand­ing gov­ern­ment reform.

Yesterday’s four flights moved 312, Fidler said.

The last mil­i­tary flight today left Djaer­ba in the late after­noon car­ry­ing 82 Egypt­ian nation­als for a flight to Cairo that was expect­ed to last 3.5 hours.

Also yes­ter­day, Fidler added, two U.S. Air Force C‑130s from Ram­stein Air Base, Ger­many, deliv­ered human­i­tar­i­an com­modi­ties less than 24 hours after Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma announced U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port to the inter­na­tion­al effort.

Dona­tions from the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment Office of For­eign Dis­as­ter Assis­tance ware­house at Leghorn Army Depot in Pisa, Italy, includ­ed 2,000 blan­kets, 40 rolls of plas­tic sheet­ing and 9,600 10-liter plas­tic water con­tain­ers.

The C‑130J crews have used Naval Sup­port Activ­i­ty Sou­da Bay, Greece, on the island of Crete, as a hub and crew-rest loca­tion. Crews of the Marine Corps KC-130s have used Naval Sta­tion Sigonel­la, Italy, on the island of Sici­ly, as a hub for their role in the oper­a­tions, accord­ing to Africom offi­cials.

Thou­sands of Egyp­tians have returned home from the Tunisia-Libya bor­der on air­craft and fer­ries belong­ing to or char­tered by gov­ern­ments from around the world.

On March 4, Naval Forces Europe-Africa, which coor­di­nates U.S. Navy sup­port to Africom, estab­lished the joint task for Odyssey Dawn to pro­vide tac­ti­cal com­mand and con­trol for emer­gency evac­u­a­tions, human­i­tar­i­an relief, and future Africom mis­sions in sup­port of the U.S. gov­ern­ment response to unrest in Libya.

Africom announced its air­lift progress and the estab­lish­ment of Odyssey Dawn in tweets from the social net­work­ing site, Twit­ter.

The air­lift and human­i­tar­i­an effort is part of a larg­er U.S. gov­ern­ment emer­gency response that Oba­ma ordered last week.

“The Unit­ed States, and the entire world, con­tin­ues to be out­raged by the appalling vio­lence against the Libyan peo­ple,” he said dur­ing a March 3 press con­fer­ence

“The Unit­ed States is help­ing to lead an inter­na­tion­al effort to deter fur­ther vio­lence, put in place unprece­dent­ed sanc­tions to hold the Gad­hafi gov­ern­ment account­able, and sup­port the aspi­ra­tions of the Libyan peo­ple,” the pres­i­dent said. “We are also respond­ing quick­ly to the urgent human­i­tar­i­an needs that are devel­op­ing.”

On the same day, Oba­ma approved the use of U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft to help move Egyp­tians who have fled to the Tunisian bor­der to get back home to Egypt.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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