UN Pulls Out of Egypt - Evacuates Staff to Cyprus
"So far today, two planes of non-essential UN personnel and family members have arrived in Cyprus. This is a temporary relocation of non-essential staff due to the security concerns in Egypt at this point. I would like to emphasize, however, that essential staff, as well as local staff, remain on the ground in Egypt, and the regular work of the United Nations is continuing per normal there," said the spokesman.
Four planes carrying UN staff are expected to land at Larnaca Airport, assisted by the Republic of Cyprus. The situation has worsened in Egypt after pro-Mubarak supporters confronted anti-government protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square, raising the spectre of all-out civil war.
Unconfirmed reports from the country say that at least two people were killed in clashes last night, and several hundred were injured. According to the Egyptian ministry of health, 300 people have been killed so far and 700 injured, said Al-Masry Al-Youm.
As of last Tuesday, anti-government protestors have rallied in their millions, calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and for democratic and economic reforms.
Cyprus Transit Point
Cyprus is ready to accomodate masses of people evacuated from Egypt if necessary, said Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis in comments to the Cyprus news agency. The government has set up a Crisis Management Centre, and if the situation worsens, has the experience to help third country evacuees.
In the summer of 2006, thousands of foreign nationals were evacuated to their countries through Cyprus during the Israel-Lebanon war.
In related news, civil unrest is brewing in Yemen today, where 20,000 anti-government protestors have gathered their own 'Day of Anger' rally.