BEIRUT: Most Lebanese nationals residing in embattled South Sudan have left the country, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Sunday.
“The contacts carried out by the ministry and the several Lebanese expatriates in [the capital] Juba, especially with businessman Ali Merhi, led to the exodus of a large number of Lebanese,” caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a statement.
Fighting has been raging in South Sudan for over a week, after Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Machar has denied this and accused Kiir of carrying out a vicious purge of his rivals.
Forty-five Lebanese have already returned to Lebanon, arriving in Rafik Hariri International Airport Saturday night on an Egypt Air flight. About 60 more will arrive Monday with the same airline, according to the ministry.
“The ministry has made contacts with the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut to ask that its government help transport the Lebanese back home. The Egyptian ambassador was very responsive,” the statement added.
The ministry has made similar contacts with the Ethiopian General Consulate, which also expressed its willingness to cooperate fully with the ministry’s requests.
“The information we have from our contacts is that there are about 50 Lebanese left in the South Sudan capital of Juba, who have chosen to remain there on their own accord,” Mansour said.
He noted that he was following up on the situation closely.
“The contacts have been made by the Lebanese Embassy in Khartoum and with the Lebanese who reside in Juba,” the statement said.