State Department: ‘No Plans’ for Evacuation of U.S. Citizens From Yemen

Americans left to fend for themselves in war-torn country

Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, wearing an army uniform, ride on an armed truck to patrol the international airport in Sanaa, Yemen
Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, wearing an army uniform, ride on an armed truck to patrol the international airport in Sanaa, Yemen / AP
June 2, 2015

The Obama administration says it has "no plans" to help evacuate U.S. citizens from Yemen, where civil war has created a dangerous security situation for foreigners stuck there, according to a Friday announcement by the State Department.

The State Department, via its "Yemen Crisis" website, announced that it has no current or future plans to help Americans stranded in Yemen flee the country. These citizens are being left to fend for themselves.

"The level of instability and ongoing threats in Yemen remain extremely concerning," the warning reads. "There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time."

"If you wish to depart Yemen, you should stay alert for other opportunities to leave the country," the State Department said. "U.S. citizens who are able to depart Yemen for another country and are in need of emergency assistance upon arrival may contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in that country."

U.S. citizens who are fleeing Yemen have been arriving in Djibouti via boat, according to the State Department, which is now urging such travelers to avoid the small northeast African republic due to an influx of Americans.

"The U.S. Embassy in Djibouti is aware that U.S. citizens and their non-U.S. citizen family members departing the unrest in Yemen are arriving in Djibouti via seaborne travel," according to the State Department alert. "U.S. citizen travelers to Djibouti should know that there is currently a severe lack of hotel accommodations in Djibouti due to the large influx of such arrivals."

"The U.S. Embassy cannot guarantee or secure hotel rooms or other lodging for U.S. citizens arriving in Djibouti," it stated. "Those travelers with family members requiring immigrant visas should anticipate staying in Djibouti for 2 or more months."

The Obama administration is encouraging all Americans still in Yemen to "notify the U.S. government of your presence" by filling out an online form and enrolling in the State Department’s "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program," which offers updates on the security situation.

In February, the United States suspended all its embassy operations in Sanaa due to security threats. American personnel were moved out of the country and all embassy services "continue to be suspended until further notice," according to the State Department.

Subsequent travel warnings issued by the State Department "warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest."

While the administration will not help to evacuate U.S. citizens there, it is warning that the "level of instability and ongoing threats in Yemen remain severe."

Meanwhile, one of four Americans being held by rebels in Yemen was released on Monday, the State Department announced.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and terrorism expert, expressed outrage over what he described as the Obama administration’s lackadaisical attitude toward U.S. citizens trapped in Yemen.

"Well, let’s see this from the White House’s perspective: al Qaeda is defeated, the Islamic State is just a JV team, and the [rebel] Houthis, by simple fact that they are pro-Iran, and therefore peace loving, are Yemeni neighborhood organizers. Clearly they pose no threat," Rubin said.

"So, if the basis for reality is fantasy, why protect U.S. citizens?" he asked.

Published under: State Department , Yemen