As the Israel-Hamas war threatens to widen into other regions, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) says the government is not guaranteeing assisted departure for citizens who may want to leave Lebanon and is again encouraging immediate evacuation via commercial flights.
In an update Sunday evening, GAC said it “sent a message to Canadians with close ties to Lebanon via diaspora media in Canada” about the “deteriorating situation in Lebanon.”
But it noted that Canadians there “should not rely on” assisted departure or evacuation flights. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly told Canadians in Lebanon to “get out” last week(opens in a new tab), saying commercial flights were still available.
“My message to Canadians in Lebanon is first: you need to come home,” Joly said. “This is time to leave. And I’ve been saying that for many days. But my message is the same: there are still commercial options available. Canadians should get out.”
Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon Stefanie McCollum, meanwhile, said last week that the embassy “feel(s) prepared” to aid the more than 17,000 Canadians who have registered in Lebanon with evacuation plans.
“We feel ready to be able to help Canadian citizens with their requirements should Canada proceed with an assisted departure, yes,” McCollum told CTV’s Power Play host Vassy Kapelos last week. “It will take time and the numbers are significant, but in terms of preparing, in terms of having a plan, in terms of having a whole-of-government capacity to respond, I do believe we’re there.”
McCollum said at the time “planning is underway”, but did not offer any concrete plans(opens in a new tab). GAC said Sunday Canadians abroad should not rely on government intervention for assisted departure or evacuation, saying that “the best time to leave a country is before a crisis if at all possible.”
The government said that, in the event of an assisted evacuation, which it says is a “rare” occurrence, government-aided departures in Lebanon will only be available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, “as well as their accompanying spouse, dependent children, or in the case of a minor, their accompanying guardian.”
The GAC also said that valid travel documents would be required for an assisted departure. Canada provided evacuation flights out of Lebanon in July 2006 amid Hezbollah-Israeli fighting then. The federal government helped about 14,370 citizens out of Lebanon at a total cost of $94 million at the time.
According to a recent GAC update, there are 17,290 Canadians registered in Lebanon, 452 registered in the West Bank and Gaza, and 5,763 in Israel, based on data from Canadians Registered Abroad, a free online service that tracks citizens during emergency situations and global tensions.
“Canadians in the affected region are encouraged to register to receive up-to-date information,” the GAC said, adding Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should e-mail the Embassy at email@example.com.
Source: CTV News