Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday confirmed reports that the UAE has decided to deport 70 Lebanese individuals, 63 of which are Shia.
“We have been informed by the Lebanese Embassy in Dubai that [UAE] authorities decided to deport 70 Lebanese in the next 24 hours,” Bassil wrote in a Tweet.
Bassil, who was informed of the decision by the Lebanese consulate in Dubai, conveyed the message to Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the Cabinet during Thursday’s session, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry.
Bassil has contacted UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other relevant parties in an attempt to settle the issue.
Friday’s statement confirmed strong diplomatic ties between Lebanon and the UAE, and assured that Lebanese expats are law-abiding citizens who contribute to the country’s development.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam told Al-Nahar newspaper Friday that he has launched contacts with relevant parties in an attempt to find a suitable solution to the issue.
The UAE hosts more than 100,000 Lebanese workers.
Local media has said there were no clear reasons for the deportations, which include Lebanese from various sects. LBC television channel, however, said the majority of those scheduled to be deported are Shiites.
Dozens of Lebanese Shiites who had lived in the UAE for years were expelled on suspicion of links with Hezbollah in 2009.
In 2013, Qatar also expelled 18 Lebanese citizens after the Gulf Cooperation Council imposed sanctions against Hezbollah for its military intervention in the Syria crisis.
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