Three Lebanese citizens, who were recently expelled from the United Arab Emirates, arrived at Beirut’s airport Sunday, with more expected later in the day.
Sources at Beirut Airport said that the three Lebanese citizens arrived from the Emirate of Sharjah, one day after four other deportees flew in from Abu Dhabi.
A flight departing from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi arrived in Beirut at 11 p.m. Saturday and carried four Lebanese citizens who were deported from of the UAE, Hassan al-Ayan, the head of a committee representing Lebanese citizens who were expelled from the country, told The Daily Star Sunday.
“A much larger group is set to arrive today, most likely at 11 p.m.,” he added.
Three flights coming to Beirut from the UAE are scheduled to arrive Sunday, with sources at Beirut’s Airport expecting a number of deportees to be on board.
Those flying in from Dubai will arrive at either 3 p.m. or midnight, while those flying in from Abu Dhabi are set to arrive at 11 p.m.
The sources said that the majority of deportees were flying in from Abu Dhabi.
Another source at Beirut’s Airport said that people arriving from the UAE are flying in individually and are keeping a low profile as not to attract any unwanted attention. The source also said that larger numbers were set to arrive Sunday.
Al-Ayan, who was at the airport Saturday, said that those arriving were still in a state of shock.
The committee head relayed his conversation with one of the arrivals who said that he wasn’t capable of selling his car, furniture or other belongings due to the 48 hour time period he was given to leave.
The deported resident said that UAE authorities were unwavering when he requested an extension to the two day deadline, despite the fact that it was impossible for him settle any of his affairs by that time.
“All he could do was finalize paper work at the company he is employed at and request an official document that would allow his relatives, who still reside in the UAE, to assume ownership of his property,” Al-Ayan said.
The arrivals come two day after roughly 70 Lebanese citizens were notified by the Lebanese embassies in UAE of the decision to deport them with their families. Most of the Lebanese facing deportations are Shiites.
The decision to deport the Lebanese is the third such move by a Gulf nation in the past six years.
In 2009, dozens of Lebanese Shiites who had lived in the UAE for years were expelled on suspicion of links with Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has been at odds with the Gulf states, particularly over the 4-year-old crisis in Syria.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam raised the matter with his Emirati counterpart, Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, on the sidelines of an economic conference in Egypt Saturday.
According to a statement released by Salam’s office, Maktoum stressed that the “UAE has neither a policy nor an intention to target Lebanese residents.”
“Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid clarified that if measures were taken against some Lebanese, they were certainly based on particular security concerns and do not exceed this limit,” it added.
The secretary-general of the Future Movement, Ahmad Hariri, who visited the Lebanese consulate in Abu Dhabi Sunday, also hinted that the UAE’s decision targeted Lebanese residents who posed security concerns for the UAE.
“As long as the Lebanese is liable to the country hosting him, this country will also be liable to him, and will be keen on guarding his rights and his interests,” Hariri said in a statement released by his media office.
Hariri also said that Lebanese expats are forced to respect the law and sovereignty of the country they reside in, because a departure from that country’s laws would serve as an attack on its sovereignty and would undermined the achievements of the Lebanese expat community as a whole.