UAE to deport 70 Lebanese: Bassil
BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday confirmed reports that the UAE had decided to deport 70 Lebanese individuals.
“We have been informed by the Lebanese Embassy in Dubai that [UAE] authorities decided to deport 70 Lebanese in the next 24 hours,” Bassil wrote in a tweet.
Bassil, who was informed of the decision by the Lebanese consulate in Dubai, conveyed the message to Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the Cabinet during Thursday’s session, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry.
Bassil has contacted UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other relevant parties in an attempt to settle the issue.
Friday’s statement confirmed strong diplomatic ties betweenLebanon and the UAE, and assured that Lebanese expats are law-abiding citizens who contribute to the country’s development.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam told Al-Nahar newspaper Friday that he has launched contacts with relevant parties in an attempt to find a suitable solution to the issue.
Hassan Alayan, the head of a committee representing Lebanese nationals who were expelled from the UAE, told The Daily Star that he was in contact with residents who were affected by Thursday’s decision.
Alayan said that residents were asked to head to a visa office in their respective city Thursday.
Officials in the office informed the individuals of their expulsion and refused to disclose the reason behind the decision. “They would say they don’t have the authority to discuss the issue,” he said.
The official would proceed to cancel the name from the list, and inform the individual that he has 24 to 48 hours to settle his affairs before he would be asked to leave.
One Lebanese man, who was asked to leave Thursday, said that he and his family were flying out of The Emirate of Sharjah Sunday, according Alayan.
The man, who refused to disclose his name out of fear of the UAE’s reprisal, said that he was only given approximately 48 hours to settle his affairs and return to Lebanon. He was also given no explanation.
According to Alayan, the expulsions were deliberately targeting Shiites in an attempt to pressure Hezbollah. The committee head, who was expelled from the UAE in 2009, said that Thursday’s decision was the latest series in an ongoing policy of discrimination targeting Lebanese Shiites in the country.
Alayan lauded Lebanon’s foreign ministry for stressing that Lebanese residents were law-abiding citizens and were not expelled due to security concerns.
Dozens of Lebanese Shiites who had lived in the UAE for years were expelled on suspicion of links with Hezbollah in 2009.
In 2013, Qatar also expelled 18 Lebanese citizens after the Gulf Cooperation Council imposed sanctions against Hezbollah for its military intervention in the Syria crisis.
The UAE hosts more than 100,000 Lebanese workers.