Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced on Thursday 24 February that all visitors impacted by the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine will be permitted to stay in the country, including at their respective hotels, until their safe return to their countries can be achieved.
The Ministry also urged any visitors impacted by the war in Ukraine to contact the Ministry’s hotline (19654) should they require any support or have any questions. The hotline will be available 24/7 and will support English, Ukrainian and Russian languages.
The Ministry’s decision comes after Egypt’s Hotel Association issued a directive to hotels across the country to extend the accommodation of any affected Ukrainian and Russian tourists in Egypt. The Association added that hotels had been instructed to provide all support necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of affected visitors.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Cairo, which has been in contact with Egyptian officials regarding the status of Ukrainian nationals in Egypt, shared the directive issued by the Association and urged its citizens to extend their stays if necessary.
The decision taken by Egyptian authorities is not surprising given Ukrainians and Russians are among the top foreign visitors to Egypt on an annual basis. Following the resumption of direct flights from Russia to Egypt in late 2021, the Egyptian government had estimated between 300,000 and 400,000 Russian tourists would visit Egypt each month. Meanwhile, between July 2020 and July 2021, 1.2 million Ukrainian tourists visited Egypt despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Egypt reaches out to stranded Egyptians
With no flights operating out of Ukraine to Egypt as a result of the Russian invasion, the Egyptian Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs has been working with the Egyptian Embassy in Ukraine and other government authorities to provide support to Egyptians stranded in the country. There are reportedly up to 6,000 Egyptians, including approximately 3,500 students, in Ukraine.
On Thursday evening, Minister of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Markam held a virtual meeting with Egyptian students in Ukraine. In a statement on Facebook, the Minister said there had so far been no Egyptians injured or reported missing as a result of the invasion.
Earlier in the week, the Ministry launched an operating room to communicate directly with Egyptians across Ukraine. The Ministry is continuing to monitor the situation and is coordinating to ensure the safety of Egyptians, said the Ministry in a statement on Thursday morning.
Foreign Ministry Releases Statement, Embassy Negotiating Safe Passage
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its first statement on the invasion on Thursday evening.
“The Arab Republic of Egypt is following with deep concern the ongoing developments in Ukraine and affirms the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavors that would hasten the political settlement of the crisis in a manner that preserves international security and stability, and ensures that the situation does not escalate or deteriorate, and thus to avoid aggravating humanitarian and economic conditions, with their impacts on the region and worldwide,” said the Ministry in its statement.
In Kyiv, the Egyptian Embassy has urged Egyptian nationals to remain in place so far as their location is safe.
In a statement published on Friday morning, the Egyptian Embassy said it was attempting to negotiate the safe passage of Egyptians stuck in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces has been the most intense. The Embassy added that Egyptians who are close to Poland and have the ability to travel there may do so, stating that Poland is offering entry to all nationals along with a 100-day visa so that they may return home safely.
The Egyptian Embassy also published the numbers of its embassy staff in Kyiv, stating that any Egyptians in Ukraine requiring assistance can directly communicate with the embassy. The numbers are: +380932165877 (Ambassador Al-Gamal), +380732009984 (First Secretary Muhammad Abdel Moati), and +380634779436 (Third Secretary Enas Taha).