The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday renewed calls for its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and Syria as Damascus battles a raging rebellion against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The UAE “once again calls on its citizens not to travel to Lebanon and Syria at this time, except under conditions of extreme urgency,” the foreign ministry said, the official WAM news agency reported.
The report said the travel warning was issued to ensure the “safety of UAE citizens abroad.”
Last year the UAE had advised its citizens to avoid travelling to Syria in the wake of the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown on protests against Assad.
On May 19, the UAE joined the Gulf states of Qatar and Bahrain in calling on their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, a warning issued after a spate of sectarian clashes in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.
Since the outbreak of the uprising against Assad in March 2011, Tripoli has become a safe haven for activists and thousands of refugees fleeing the deadly unrest which has so far left more than 14,000 people dead, according to rights groups.
The warning against travelling to Lebanon comes despite Lebanese President Michel Sleiman’s June 6 visit to the UAE where he reportedly asked leaders of the Gulf states to retract the advisory ahead of the summer season when thousands of Gulf residents flock to the country.