Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

Terminal 1 at Cairo International Airport in Heliopolis, to the northeast of Cairo, Egypt, July 21, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 July 2020

Stranded Egyptians return from Sudan, Kuwait and Qatar

  • More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan
  • Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10

CAIRO: Hundreds of Egyptians who had been stranded overseas because of the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Egypt on Wednesday as the country reopened its airports, which have been closed for three months.

More than 1,000 Egyptians returned from Kuwait, 308 from New York, 174 from Qatar, and 217 from Sudan. The latter came through the Qastal border crossing, which reopened last month after Sudan closed its border in March.

Mustafa Abul-Magd, director general of preventive medicine in Aswan, said that COVID-19 tests were conducted at the quarantine location at the crossing, and that none of the returnees had tested positive.

Meanwhile, Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia announced it would be providing Egyptians in Jordan with a flight from Amman to Cairo on July 10. Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Muhammad Manar Enabah had previously announced that national carrier EgyptAir and Air Cairo would be providing 315 flights to return 57,000 Egyptians stranded abroad. The Egyptian Embassy in Germany has also announced the resumption of flights between the two countries, meaning Egyptian expats there can also return home.

Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram thanked all Arab countries for their support of Egyptian workers abroad during the COVID-19 crisis, and stressed that the whole country has worked to repatriate all Egyptians who wanted to return. “The Egyptian citizen is now prioritized in the country. The state has managed to deal with the anxieties of Egyptians abroad,” Makram said.

Journalist Hassan Al-Rashidi told Arab News that Egypt — with the help of several other countries — has “proven that it never forgets its citizens, even in times of crisis.”
Al-Rashidi added that the suspension of flights had had a major impact on tourism, which plays a huge role in Egypt’s economy. He said the resumption of flights would see many tourism jobs reinstated.


Initial investigations point to negligence as cause of Beirut blast

Updated 31 min 48 sec ago

Initial investigations point to negligence as cause of Beirut blast

  • 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures
  • A source said a fire had started at warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored

BEIRUT: Initial investigations indicate years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material in Beirut port caused the blast that killed over 100 people on Tuesday, an official source familiar with the findings said.
The prime minister and presidency said on Tuesday that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.
"It is negligence," the official source told Reuters, adding that the storage safety issue had been before several committees and judges and "nothing was done" to issue an order to remove or dispose of the highly combustible material.
The source said a fire had started at warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored.
Tuesday's explosion was the most powerful ever suffered by Beirut, a city is still scarred by civil war three decades ago and reeling from a deep financial crisis rooted in decades of corruption and economic mismanagement.
Badri Daher, Director General of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI on Wednesday that customs had sent six documents to the judiciary warning that the material posed a danger.
"We requested that it be re-exported but that did not happen. We leave it to the experts and those concerned to determine why," Daher said.
Another source close to a port employee said a team that inspected the ammonium nitrate six months ago warned that if it was not moved it would "blow up all of Beirut".
According to two documents seen by Reuters, Lebanese Customs had asked the judiciary in 2016 and 2017 to ask the "concerned maritime agency" to re-export or approve the sale of the ammonium nitrate, removed from the a cargo vessel, Rhosus, and deposited in warehouse 12, to ensure port safety.
One of the documents cited similar requests in 2014 and 2015.
"A local and international investigation needs to be conducted into the incident, given the scale and the circumstances under which these goods were brought into the ports," said Ghassan Hasbani, former deputy prime minister and a member of the Lebanese Forces party.
Shiparrested.com, an industry network dealing with legal cases, had said in a 2015 report that the Rhosus, sailing under a Moldovan flag, docked in Beirut in September 2013 when it had technical problems while sailing from Georgia to Mozambique with 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
It said that, upon inspection, the vessel was forbidden from sailing and shortly afterwards it was abandoned by its owners, leading to various creditors coming forward with legal claims.
"Owing to the risks associated with retaining the ammonium nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities discharged the cargo onto the port's warehouses," it added.