An emergency committee supervised by Lebanon’s embassy in Ivory Coast said Monday that it was no longer responsible for evacuating Lebanese nationals from the embattled West African country because of “the lack of resources” and because committee members were targeted by “insults and accusations.”
“Due to … the pressures that we have been subject to along with the lack of resources … the committee … announces that it has nothing to do anymore with preparing lists [of travelers] and organizing trips [to Lebanon], especially that committee members have suffered accusations and insults,” said a statement by the committee.
The statement said that Middle East Airlines along with the Higher Relief Council were responsible now for flying Lebanese nationals to Lebanon.
Thousands of Lebanese are stranded in war-torn Ivory Coast, which hosts between 70,000 and 90,000 Lebanese. Many relatives of Lebanese in Ivory Coast have criticized the embassy in Abidjan and Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry for the slow evacuation process.
Two MEA planes arrived in Rafik Hariri International Airport Monday with Lebanese nationals aboard. One of the planes was the first to come directly from Abidjan, while the other came from Accra, with each carrying 244 passengers, many of whom were Lebanese. Also Monday, one MEA plane headed to Accra and another to Abidjan to fly additional Lebanese nationals.
Speaker Nabih Berri received at his residence in Ain al-Tineh the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, and demanded that the U.N. expand the deployment of its forces to protect civilians along with vital economic facilities and industrial complexes that would play a major role in the revival of Ivory Coast after the restoration of calm.
He also proposed that the U.N. plays a direct role in evacuating Lebanese.
For his part, Williams told reporters no “serious injuries” or “fatalities” have been recorded so far among the Lebanese community in Ivory Coast. Agencies