“Lebanese Canadians are grateful for the government’s help in getting people out
of the war zone.
© Canadian Press 2006
Evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon to continue; 2,400 said to be returning
Canadian Press-Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2006
OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs will send two ships to Lebanon early next week to resume the evacuation of Canadians from the war-wracked country.
The vessels have the capacity to carry up to 2,400 people, but the department says it doesn’t know how many people will take advantage of the offer.
The department said Canadians who have notified the embassy in Beirut or the Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa that they want to leave Lebanon will be contacted with instructions about the evacuation.
Evacuees are restricted to a single piece of luggage and must leave their pets behind.
The department said continued fighting in Lebanon has hampered the delivery of essential goods and services, which prompted the resumption of the evacuation effort.“We’ve continued to monitor the situation and we’re responding to the needs of Canadians in Lebanon,” said Ambra Dickie of Foreign Affairs.
Elias Bejjani of the Lebanese-Canadian Co-ordinating Council, said he thought more people would want to leave Lebanon as the fighting goes on.
He said Lebanese Canadians are grateful for the government’s help in getting people out of the war zone.
“The Lebanese-Canadian community, in the majority, appreciates what has been done,” he said.
“From Day 1 we expressed our gratitude to the government.”
Between July 19 and Aug. 3, chartered ships and planes ferried approximately 14,000 Canadians out of Lebanon from Beirut and the southern port city of Tyre to Cyprus and Turkey. They were then flown home.
The Tyre evacuation was hazardous because the city was a centre of the fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.
Foreign Affairs officials, Canadian soldiers and even CSIS agents helped shepherd people aboard the ships.
When that evacuation ended, Foreign Affairs said it was ready to resume operations if necessary.
At the time, some of the evacuees said there were Canadians trapped by the fighting in south Lebanon, which cut key roads and made travel perilous.
Up to 40,000 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Beirut.
The government has not said how much the evacuation effort has cost to date.
Bejjani, however, said he believes the final tab will be in the millions.“We are grateful to Canadians because they are paying for that,” he said.
© Canadian Press 2006