Al-Markazia News Agency reported that the Lebanese people residing in Turkey are raising USD 12,000 to enter Lebanon in a private jet amid airlines stopping flights and Beirut International Airport under lockdown.
Like many Lebanese stranded in foreign countries due to the pandemic, the Lebanese in Turkey have not yet been able to return. They have been working on collecting enough money to hire a private jet so they can make it back home. So far, they have raised USD 8,000.
Lebanon officially shut down Beirut-Rafik Al Hariri Airport on March 18th, making it impossible for people to enter the country through public flights.
The closure, however, excludes UNIFIL and diplomatic missions accredited to Lebanon, international organizations, freight planes, and people working for companies associated with drilling operations in Block No. 4.
Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hitti tweeted regarding the crisis: “Lebanon’s embassies abroad and the Crisis Management Committee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are following up and managing the situation of the Lebanese abroad.”
Sauf votre respect, M. le Ministre, vos ambassades ne sont ni équipées ni prêtes à soutenir les personnes bloquées, qui ont dû faire un choix entre nourrir leur famille ou les rejoindre. pic.twitter.com/4LYdR1PvDn— Jean-Frederic Alam (@jfea01) March 25, 2020
“They are working to create a network of communication between the Lebanese people abroad and the Lebanese state,” Fahmi asserted.
Responses to Minister Hitti on Twitter have been many from frustrated Lebanese stranded abroad. A Lebanese in Nottingham (UK), holder of a Ph.D. in biotechnology, replied with:
“Frankly, no. We are the ones calling them and we give them our names and they don’t call us and nothing. And there is no contact network and communication between the Lebanese people and the state. There is something called ‘we call them and they tell us they can do nothing.'”
صراحة لأ، نحنا لبنتصل فيهن و بنعطيهن أسمينا وهني لا بيحكونا ولا شي و ما في شبكة إتّصال وتواصل بين اللبنانيين والدولة، في شي اسمو نحنا نتصل فيهن و هني يقولو ما فينا نعمل شيMarch 25, 2020
Similarly, in an open letter expressing their despair, Lebanese students and their families stranded in Ukraine are urging the state to bring them back home. Lebanese students in Italy are also in the same situation, living on $6 a week and on donations.
Lebanese people around the world have been sharing their stories, some asking to return to Lebanon and others sending messages of solidarity and prayers to their families and the people affected.
Even though Turkey airports have not been shut down yet, the country has halted flights to 70 countries.
Whether private jets are excluded from Lebanon’s official ban is uncertain. However, the Lebanese people in Turkey remain hopeful in their attempts to manage the cost for a private jet flight.
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