Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Relatives of the Syrian community in Libya deny to Al Iqtisadi the arrival of Syrian planes

This urgent report was published earlier today on the website of the Syrian Arabic-language biweekly magazine al-Iqtisadi. Here is a rush English translation of it.

Urgent: Relatives of the Syrian community in Libya deny to Al Iqtisadi the arrival of Syrian planes 
Syria's ambassador to Libya, Mr. Hilal al-Atrash affirmed that 3 Syrian planes were sent from Syria to Tripoli to transport those who desire to go back home. 
He added that consular staff from the Syrian Embassy in cooperation with the Syrian Airlines office have moved to the Tripoli Airport to facilitate the procedures of the departing members of the Syrian community. 
Ambassador al-Atrash revealed that a ship may arrive soon to the city of Benghazi in east Libya to facilitate the return of those who want to travel to Syria. He said he is in contact with the Syrian Consulate in Benghazi and is following news of the community there in cooperation with the Consul General. 
Syrian Air had announced operating four flights between Damascus Airport and Tripoli Airport in Libya, two on Tuesday evening (7 PM and 11 PM) and two today Wednesday (4:30 AM and 9 AM), to transport members of the Syrian community who would like to depart Tripoli Airport because of the current events in Libya. 
Meanwhile, relatives of Syrian community members have denied to Al Iqtisadi the arrival of the three planes. They said their relatives in Libya are still awaiting the arrival of Syrian planes to Tripoli airport for two days now. 
The al Iqtisadi website has published previously a report saying that 5000 Syrians are stranded and starving in Tripoli Airport with no planes to transport them, after having received calls to that effect from relatives of Syrian expatriates working in Libya. This lead to the formation of a Facebook group demanding from Syrian Arab Airlines to send planes to rescue the Syrians, just like the Jordanians and others whose governments are in followup with them and transporting them very quickly. Al Arabiya news channel reported that many Syrians have crossed the Libyan border to Egypt because there aren't enough planes. Of note, only one Syrian plane arrived to Tripoli Airport and transported a number of Syrians. It did not return despite the fact that it asked for much higher prices than before, and everyone was willing to pay. Some are also bargaining to sell Syrian Air tickets for a $1000 USD each pending the arrival of the planes.  

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