Lebanon sets new plans to evacuate nationals trapped in Ukraine

Lebanon sets new plans to evacuate nationals trapped in Ukraine
Lebanon's prime minister and foreign minister have set in motion plans to evacuate Lebanese citizens who had been living in Ukraine and fled to neighbouring countries after Russia's invasion.
2 min read
26 February, 2022
Ukraine residents have been leaving their country in droves since Russia launched its invasion on Thursday [Anadolu via Getty]

Lebanese officials have said they were stepping up efforts to save citizens fleeing Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and foreign minister Abdallah Bou Habib met on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, state media outlet National News Agency reported.

At the meeting, the government's High Relief Commission was assigned the task of evacuating Lebanese nationals who had been living in Ukraine but fled to neighbouring countries after Russia began the full-scale invasion of its western neighbour, Bou Habib told the news site.

It had not yet been decided when the evacuations might take place, Bou Habib said.

Russia's launched a ground invasion and airstrikes on Ukraine on Thursday, sparking an exodus from the country.

Some 100,000 people have crossed into Poland from Ukraine since the invasion began, according to the Polish interior ministry.

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Lebanese diplomatic staff said Friday they had organised for buses to take citizens in Ukraine to the border with Poland, from where they would be able to return to Lebanon, L'Orient Le Jour reported.

But video shared on social media on Friday purportedly showed desperate Lebanese students travelling by foot to Poland or Romania to escape Ukraine.

In a statement released Friday evening, Lebanon's foreign ministry said Lebanese at the Polish border would be granted short-term entry permits if they could provide the Lebanese authorities in Poland with proof of Ukraine residence and a copy of their passport.

Lebanese would also be allowed to cross at the Romanian border, and into Romania via Moldova, the ministry said.

The invasion follows weeks of tensions between Russia on the one hand and Ukraine and its Western allies on the other.

Several Arab states including Lebanon had advised their citizens to leave the country a fortnight ago.

However, some Lebanese in Ukraine say the dire financial situation in Lebanon has prevented them from being able to do so.

They say they did not have the funds to pay for a ticket to fly out from Ukraine, and won't be able to afford a way home from a neighbouring country either. 

The Ukrainian health ministry has said that 198 people, including three children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion.