x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Stranded Palestinians leave Dubai

Four of the nine Palestinians stranded at Dubai International Airport for weeks have returned to Egypt after UAE authorities arranged visas for them.

DUBAI // Four of the nine Palestinians stranded at Dubai International Airport for weeks have returned to Egypt after UAE authorities arranged visas for them.

Dr Gaith al Suwaidi, the executive director of the Community Development Authority's (CDA) human rights department, confirmed yesterday that two of the men left on Tuesday, and said visas for the remaining men were being processed. Two more of the men left Dubai yesterday.

"I am happy that this nightmare is almost over and I will get to see my family despite the bad conditions in Gaza," said Ghassan Shakshak, 28, before boarding an aircraft bound for Egypt yesterday afternoon.

The Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border has been the only access point to the Gaza Strip since the Israeli blockades began. But changes in regulations after the January 25 revolution in Egypt meant Palestinian bachelors younger than 40 have had difficulty getting visas.

Four of the five men still stranded at the airport do not want to return home, saying conditions in the Gaza Strip are unbearable and that their lives would be at risk if they returned.

They are seeking asylum in countries including Australia, Sweden and Canada.

Seven of the men were allowed to enter Dubai on March 15 and were told they could stay until their situations were resolved.

An eighth man was allowed in a few days later. A ninth joined the group later.

Four men were returned to the airport on March 23 and the remaining five were returned to the airport last Thursday.

wissa@thenational.ae