BEIRUT: The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain called on their citizens Saturday to avoid travel to Lebanon and for those in the country to depart given the tense security situation as Prime Minster Najib Mikati, who expressed surprise on the development, urged the three states to reconsider their decisions.
Ambassador Isa Abdullah Masoud al-Kalbani, the director of the department of the Nationals' Affairs at the UAE Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the steps the Emirates had taken were out of its “keenness for the safety of its expats and citizens.”
Kalbani called on those presently in the country to depart and for those obliged to stay to call their embassy in Beirut to notify it of their whereabouts and contact details.
The UAE official also said it was important that citizens register on the ministry’s online Tawajudi program when leaving the Emirates.
Qatar and Bahrain also issued similar travel warnings, urging their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and that those presently in the country leave.
Unrest between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli last week claimed the lives of 11 people and led to the wounding of scores more.
The Lebanese Army, which was deployed to the area Tuesday, brought an end to the fighting and a shaky truce has been enforced since then.
According to the office of the prime minister, Mikati contacted several officials of the Gulf Cooperation Council to seek clarification on the travel advisories by the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.
Mikati, who expressed surprise over the decisions, said there “is no practical justification for it because the security situation in Lebanon is good and the events [in Tripoli] have been resolved.”
He urged the three states to reconsider their decisions and welcomed “all those visiting to Lebanon, particularly our Arab brothers.”
Mikati also contacted Foreign Affairs Adnan Mansour and requested that he follow up on the matter.
Earlier Satruday, Mansour, who left Beirut to participate at a forum in Doha, urged both the UAE and Qatar to revise their decisions.
“We hope that our responsible brothers in Qatar and the UAE will reconsider these two decisions because the situation in Lebanon does not require officials in these sisterly countries to take decisions such as this because the Qatari and Emirati brothers are as our other Arab brothers and they have a special place in the hearts of Lebanese,” Mansour said, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency.
“The bonds of brotherhood that link Lebanon with them are greater than any transient incident and therefore they are welcome in Lebanon at any time because at the end of the day they are in their second homes,” he added.