• Monday, June 17, 2024

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UK recalls embassy staff from Lebanon, urges citizens to leave

The FCDO highlighted the possibility of significant disruptions or sudden cancellations of commercial routes out of Lebanon

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

The UK foreign office has recalled certain embassy personnel from Lebanon and has issued advisories to British nationals, urging them to leave the country as soon as possible due to escalating concerns regarding the violence and turmoil associated with the Gaza conflict.

In a statement, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) expressed the rapidly changing situation in Lebanon, calling attention to the potential for swift deterioration without warning.

Britons in Lebanon have been advised to register with the embassy and prepare to leave while there are still viable options, The Guardian reported.

The FCDO highlighted the possibility of significant disruptions or sudden cancellations of commercial routes out of Lebanon and the potential closure of roads across the nation.

Citing the risk of civil unrest, including large-scale protests outside certain embassies last month, the FCDO informed that some embassy staff and all family members have been evacuated from the country.

The embassy in Lebanon remained operational, focusing on essential tasks and providing services to British nationals, despite the challenging circumstances.

However, the FCDO stressed on the possibility of limited assistance from the British embassy in the event of further deterioration in the political or security situation.

It also cautioned against relying on the FCDO’s ability to evacuate individuals during emergencies.

Energy Secretary Claire Countinho, when asked about the developments, expressed her concern. She highlighted the importance of ongoing diplomatic efforts and highlighted the recent visits to the region by the prime minister, defense secretary, and foreign secretary.

Their collective focus has been on preventing the escalation of the conflict, she said.

She added, “Everything that we’ve done has been to try and protect British nationals and make sure that we are de-escalating things in the region.”

In the past few days, Israeli forces has initiated airstrikes in southern Lebanon, near the shared border, in response to mortar and rocket attacks from Hezbollah into Israel.

Tragically, one Israeli strike resulted in the loss of three girls aged eight to 14, along with their grandmother, prompting strong concerns expressed by a Hezbollah member of parliament.

These clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military have led to the unfortunate deaths of six Israeli soldiers, one civilian, and around 50 fighters affiliated with the Islamist organisation.

Therefore, there is growing apprehension that the ongoing conflict might escalate and extend to other areas.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, held meetings with high-ranking Jordanian officials and others over the weekend. These discussions were part of Washington’s attempts to prevent a regional escalation between Israel and Hamas.

Additionally, the meetings aimed to explore solutions to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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