Belgians prepare to flee violence in Lebanon
17 July 2006, BRUSSELS — A group of Belgians is expected to be evacuated from Lebanon on Monday on a ferry boat chartered by France.
17 July 2006
BRUSSELS — A group of Belgians is expected to be evacuated from Lebanon on Monday on a ferry boat chartered by France.
There is room for 800 to 1,000 passengers on the ferry, which will sail for Cyprus, where a Belgian Airbus C310 will land on Tuesday afternoon to transport the Belgian nationals back to Brussels.
Some 1,200 Lebanese Belgians live in Lebanon, most of whom have dual nationality.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry is acting on the assumption that they do not yet want to be evacuated because they live in Lebanon. But there are also 600 Belgian tourists or business people in Lebanon.
Only a restricted number of them will be able to travel with the French-charted ferry on Monday. In exchange for transporting foreign nationals on the ferry, France is expecting that French citizens will be able to board the Belgian Airbus in Cyprus.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said Defence Minister André Flahaut is closely monitoring the situation in Lebanon and can deploy an extra Airbus at any moment if considered necessary.
Spokesman Nick Van Haver explained the Belgium was not sending a ferry itself because the evacuation of foreigners in Lebanon was being led by France.
"The co-ordinated evacuation, together with other nations, appears to us at this moment the most efficient manner to get our citizens out of Lebanon," he said.
The French ferry will conduct multiple journeys to and from Lebanon in coming days and it could take a week before all the Belgians who wish to be evacuated can actually leave the country.
Italy and Spain have already evacuated some of their citizens from Lebanon, transporting them first by bus to Syria and an awaiting flight over the weekend. Twelve Belgians flew on one of the Italian flights.
Asked why Belgium did not deploy buses, ministerial spokesman Huygelen said evacuation by road is the most dangerous option. However, he stressed that the government was keeping every option open.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news