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ASU students evacuate Egypt; study abroad program ends

Two ASU students studying abroad in Egypt are in the process of evacuating the country as protests continue to escalate.

Amy Shenberger, director of ASU’s study abroad office, said the University has discontinued its program with the American University in Cairo for the spring semester.

The decision came after the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning Sunday recommending U.S. citizens leave the country.

The University is not releasing the names of the two students.

The American University in Cairo is about one hour east of downtown Cairo, where violent demonstrations have been taking place since Jan. 25.  About 100 people had been killed in the protests as of Monday, according to various reports.

Protesters are calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule, and for the creation of a new government.  According to news reports, one of the main reasons for the unrest is rising food prices.

The State Department is currently organizing charter flights to have U.S. citizens flown out of Egypt. Shenberger said the two students would be on those flights.

One student is expected to leave Tuesday, she said. The other student will leave later in the week.

According to the State Department, passengers of these flights are expected to be taken to Athens, Istanbul or Nicosi, Cyprus. Shenberger did not know where the students were heading, but said they would be taking commercial flights back to the U.S. once in the European locations.

With the Egyptian government shutting down the Internet and cell phone service late last week, contacting the students has been difficult, Shenberger said.

“Limited communication tools make monitoring students’ safety more challenging for us,” she said in an e-mail.

Shenberger said one student has been in Egypt since last semester to study for the entire academic year. The other student arrived in January.

U.S. State Department spokesman Andy Laine said landlines are operational in Egypt, and some cell phone service has been restored.

Shenberger said only one of the students had a cell phone. The other student was being contacted using a phone at one of the university’s dormitories.

As of Monday, Internet connection was still down, Laine said.

The University has had a direct partnership program with American University in Cairo since 2004.

Shenberger said the program could return in the future, but it wouldn’t be any sooner than next spring.

“We’re not hopeless when it comes to [the Egyptian program] at all,” she said.

ASU students are also studying abroad in the country of Jordan, another site of large demonstrations. Shenberger said the University’s partners in Jordan are providing updates with the situation, but no evacuations have been made.

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