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Messages for U.S. Citizens

Security Message for U.S. Citizens No 30: Possible Demonstrations the Weekend of January 31 – February 2, 2013

January 31, 2012

Demonstrators opposed to Egypt’s current government are expected to gather in large numbers this weekend in downtown Cairo, Alexandria, and governorates throughout Egypt creating traffic, train, and metro disruptions along with clashes between police and protestors.  Demonstration leaders may have aspirations for creating transportation gridlock throughout Cairo and in other key cities.

There are no indications that protests will be directed against U.S. diplomatic facilities or personnel this weekend.  U.S. citizens however, should avoid large gatherings due to the risk of spontaneous and unexpected clashes.  Protestors are likely to target Egyptian government buildings and police.  Expect congestion and crowds to impede roads and streets that lead to Tahrir Square, the Presidential Palace, downtown Cairo, downtown Alexandria, Egyptian government buildings, and major mosques nation-wide.

The security situation in the vicinity of the Embassy over the past week has been extremely fluid and unpredictable, as it has been elsewhere in Egypt.  As those citizens with appointments for American Citizen Services on January 27, 29, and 30 know, we have been forced to reschedule nearly 200 appointments this week alone.  The Embassy regrets the inconvenience this poses to you.  The decision to close for routine services is not one that is taken lightly and is taken only when we believe that travel to and from the Embassy will place U.S. citizens at risk.  The American Citizen Services unit notifies U.S. citizens of the need to reschedule immediately upon learning that the decision to limit access to the Embassy has been taken, and we will continue to work to ensure that you have as much notice as possible in order to minimize the inconvenience to you.

While routine services can be rescheduled, we recognize that emergencies cannot.  The Embassy remains committed to providing service to all U.S. citizens who require immediate assistance to the extent it can.  Our switchboard remains open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and a duty officer is always available to take calls from U.S. citizens to report an arrest, death, that they have been a victim of crime, or any other emergency circumstance that requires immediate attention.

As a matter of general practice, U.S. citizens should avoid areas where large gatherings may occur.  Even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.  U.S. citizens in Egypt are urged to monitor local news reports and to plan their activities accordingly.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to review their personal security plans and remain alert to their surroundings at all times in Egypt.  For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website where the Worldwide Caution,  Country Specific Information for Egypt,Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts, can be found.  Follow us onTwitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App and the Android market to have travel information at your fingertips.  

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).