Political unrest prompts evacuation of University of Michigan students studying in Egypt
At least 10 University of Michigan students studying abroad in Egypt will be evacuated from Cairo this week due to political unrest in the country.
Cairo is in upheaval Wednesday as the Egyptian military stages a coup, ousting Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president who took office a year ago.
Groups are protesting, rallying and celebrating throughout the country and university officials are worried about safety of the students.
“The safety of our students is always important,” James Holloway, U-M vice provost for global and engaged education, said in a statement. “No one wants their summer-abroad experience cut short, but the uncertainty of the situation in Cairo in the days ahead made this decision very clear for us.”
A group of eight students — seven undergraduates and one graduate student — were in the middle of a two-month cultural program offered through U-M's Center for Global and Intercultural Study held at American University's Cairo campus. Another two students are studying in Alexandria in a foreign language program run by the American Councils for International Education.
The students in Cairo will be taken to the airport Thursday and flown to another country and then rerouted to the United States. The students in the language program are scheduled to leave Friday for Meknes, Morocco, where the program has been moved for the remainder of the academic year.
Classes for the group in Cairo were canceled earlier this week and the students have been staying in a residence hall that is separated from protests in the Egyptian capital city, according to the school.
"There is now a very celebratory atmosphere," U-M student Nikhil Nandigam, who is studying in Alexandria with the Arabic Flagship Program, told MLive Wednesday. "People are hugging each other and cheering."
Three U-M students studying in Egypt already have been evacuated. The students are participating in Arabic language study with students from other universities and have moved with the program from Cairo to Amman, Jordan. That program is operated by American-Mideast Educational and Training Services, a leading nonprofit educational organization.
According to an MLive article, five Michigan State University students already have left the country due to the unrest.
One U-M doctoral student also is conducting field research in Egypt, not in Cairo, and one faculty member traveling in Egypt. U-M officials were in the process of contacting them Wednesday afternoon, according to U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald.