Air Force Transports Refugees Back to Egypt
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2011 Two U.S. C-130s will transport Egyptian refugees from Tunisia to Cairo today, Defense Department officials said.
“The aircraft should be on the ground in Djerba now,” said Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, referring to the Tunisian island where crews are picking up the refugees. “The plan is for them to transport 150 Egyptians who have fled the fighting in Libya back home.”
These will be the ninth and 10th flights taking Egyptians to their home country. The effort began over the weekend, with 640 Egyptians flown home. One of the C-130s flying refugees today is an Air Force transport from Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete, and the other is a Marine Corps airraft from Sigonella on the Italian island of Sicily.
The 10 flights are in addition to two flights that brought humanitarian assistance to refugees who traveled out of Libya to Tunisia. The two sorties delivered 2,000 blankets, 40 rolls of plastic sheeting and 9,600 10-liter plastic water containers.
No other sorties are planned, nor have any been requested, Lapan said. Still, he added, U.S. Africa Command planners remain ready.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy will represent the Defense Department at a White House meeting today on the situation in Libya, Lapan said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is in Brussels, Belgium, where he will participate in a meeting of NATO defense ministers that begins tomorrow. Libya will figure prominently in those discussions, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier this week.