UN starts pulling its personnel out of Egypt

14:43, February 04, 2011      

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The United Nations Thursday evacuated about 360 staff and members of their families to Cyprus, airport officials said.

A military transport plane with nearly 150 people on board landed early Thursday afternoon at Larnaca airport and a second one is expected later in the afternoon.

A Larnaca Airport spokesman said the United Nations had requested facilities to mount and airlift. He added two planes will shuttle between Larnaca and Cairo until all a total of 592 people are brought to Cyprus.

A UN unit is stationed at the airport to receive evacuees and make arrangements for their accommodation.

The flights were planned at 90-minute intervals, but difficulties faced by the evacuees to reach Cairo airport led to rescheduling.

The evacuation of UN personnel coincided with a statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing concern about growing violence on Cairo streets.

The head of a government crisis center set up at Larnaca airport to co-ordinate evacuation of foreign nationals from Cairo said there was difficulty talking to people in Cairo.

"We have a serious problem with telephone communications," said Andreas Zenonos, a foreign ministry official at the crisis center.

Zenonos also said that many Egyptians have contacted the Cypriot embassy in Cairo asking to help them reach Cyprus.

Source: Xinhua
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