UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University officials are scrambling to help evacuate their students stuck in strife-torn Egypt.
Following the U.S. State Department's travel warning Sunday advising Americans in Egypt to leave the North African nation as soon as they safely could, flights out of Cairo have been scheduled for the two Carolina students and the Duke student based there.
But while the U.S. government and other agencies were arranging charter flights, with airlines observing a 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew imposed by the Egyptian government and thousands of people trying to leave, Cairo's international airport was reportedly a scene of chaos and confusion Monday.
According to reports, shouting and shoving matches erupted as thousands crammed into the airport's new Terminal 3 seeking a flight home.
"Both of our students are in the process of being evacuated from Cairo," said Bob Miles, the UNC associate dean for study abroad and international exchanges. "Both are now at the airport. One has an arrangement to leave Cairo [today]. The other is scheduled to leave Wednesday.
"But of course, that is dependent on whether airline schedules are maintained. Things are pretty chaotic over there."
According to Miles, "both students are safe and relatively relaxed under challenging circumstances."
Duke has one American graduate student doing research in Cairo. "She is currently at the airport and is scheduled to be on a plane to Rome [Monday]," said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs. "We are also assisting a 2010 graduate who is serving on a Fulbright fellowship in Cairo."
The university has been in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, "but our arrangements have been with International SOS, a private company that Duke works with to provide emergency evacuation and medical services to students and employees who are traveling overseas," Schoenfeld said. "Through SOS, we have arranged for their flights out of the country."
UNC has been in contact with the students' parents and is also working with the embassy, the U.S. State Department and the American University in Cairo, where both Carolina students are enrolled.
"We are coordinating with the American University," said Miles. "We've been in communication all day with them. We are constantly monitoring the situation there."
Classes have been canceled at the American University for this week. Officials there still say that classes will resume this Sunday.
But those classes won't include the UNC students.
On Monday morning, the university officially suspended its academic programs at the American University -- which have been in place since 2002 -- for the summer and next fall.
"Our programs are suspended until further notice," Miles said. "We'll make a judgment later about whether to re-institute them, consistent with the State Department's advisory."
Duke has in the past run programs in Egypt, but does not do so now. Twenty-nine Duke alumni live in Egypt.
Overall, about 500 U.S. students attend programs at the American University, whose main campus is in a suburb, away from the demonstrations downtown. Over the weekend, the university moved all of its American students, many of whom live off campus, to a dormitory there and to another location on the island of Zamalek, in Cairo.
The campus has sustained some damage. The guard post in front of the university was set on fire, and the graffiti that has bloomed across the city covers one of its walls with slogans such as "Free Egypt," "Revolution," and, in reference to Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, "Game Over, Mubarak."