LONDON — BRITISH ambassador to Iraq Harold Walker said yesterday that Western embassies in Baghdad have been ordered to collect the passports of women and children from their countries in preparation for evacuation. Mr. Walker told BBC television that each embassy was required to take the passports to the Interior Ministry to be stamped with an exit visa.
The ministry will be staying open extra hours to process the visa applications, but John Simpson, the BBC's correspondent in Baghdad, quoted most diplomats in the city as saying it would be Saturday at least before the main group of evacuees could leave.
The diplomats believed it would be possible for many people to leave Baghdad by scheduled flights. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways both have aircraft on standby to evacuate any of the released women and children.