x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Trapped Palestinians to leave Dubai airport after 45-day stalemate

Eight men were stuck at the airport because of impasse with Egypt over visa rules.

DUBAI // Eight Palestinians stranded at Dubai International Airport for more than 45 days while awaiting permission to return home through Egypt will be allowed to stay in Dubai until their situation is resolved.

Qasem Redwan, the Palestinian Consul General in Dubai, said local authorities will allow the group to enter Dubai and stay in the city until their return to Gaza is approved.

“We are currently doing their paperwork for them and they are expected to leave the airport by tomorrow,” said Mr Redwan.

The eight Palestinians, who transited through Dubai from Malaysia, Indonesia and China, en route to Egypt, have been stuck at the airport for more than a month. The men landed in Cairo, but returned to Dubai after being refused entry to the country.

Two of the stranded men are businessmen and one is a photographer while the remaining men are students, according to the Palestinian Consulate.

The men will have their visas sponsored by the Palestinian Consulate and will be provided shelter by the Community Development Authority’s human rights committee.

“We have contacted the Dubai Police Chief and he has given his directions to end the dilemma of this group,” said Mr Redwan. Rafah crossing – a four-hour drive from Cairo – has been the only access point to the Gaza Strip since the Isreali blockades began.

However, following the January 25 revolution in Egypt, officials there issued regulations surrounding the granting of visas to Palestinian bachelors younger than 40: each case must now be studied before approval is granted. As a result, many Palestinians are now unable to reach the border. The stranded group in Dubai initially consisted of 14 people, but five of them were able to secure visas to Jordan, Syria and Oman through relatives, according to the Palestinian Consulate.

Similar groups of Palestinians are stranded in other places as a consequence of the change in Egyptian regulations. “We know of a group of five in Morocco and there were also some in Libya,” said Loai Mousa, the Assistant Consul General for administrative affairs in Dubai.

Mr Mousa also said there are a further 200 people from Gaza who have come to Dubai and are unable to leave due to the restrictions imposed on them by Egyptian authorities. “Gazans who are unable to travel because of restrictions are to have their visas extended and fines for overstaying their visas waived off,” he said.

However, the exemption was granted on the condition that the Egyptian authorities would provide a time for when these people would be allowed to return to Rafah.  
wissa@thenational.ae