The State Department’s crisis staff is still in full swing on the 23rd day of the war. It is one of the State Department’s oldest crisis teams. The Sudanese work crew lasted about three weeks. They are now in their fourth week.
There is no indication that the situation is heading downward. On Friday evening, there were reports that Israel was escalating its attacks against the Gaza Strip and “expanding” its ground operations. A day later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they were in the “second phase” of the war.
– How did you react to this news? – What does it mean for the work you do here?
The work we do here is still largely focused on Norwegian citizens who are in Gaza and want to leave. At the weekend, there was a situation where we did not communicate with them for periods, because there were no communication options to enter or exit, says Lovaas to Dagbladet ahead of today’s status meeting.
As Lovas says, the situation on the ground was not clear. At the weekend, several Palestinian mobile operators reported that there was no phone or internet coverage for more than two million people living there. It should be a bit on the way back now.
-What does he have? the To tell their work?
– This makes it very demanding. Now, thankfully, we’re on the road again, so we’re communicating a little more. But we don’t know if there will be new lapses like this again, and then we are left without any means of communication. It has a great practical result. It also makes it more difficult for relatives here in Norway, who are in a more difficult situation and cannot contact their relatives.
Lovas says there are still more than 200 Norwegian citizens in Gaza, and they know some of them have been infected.
– How were they injured, were they in air strikes?
– I will not comment on injuries.
-Are there children among those infected?
– I will not comment on that either.
– Did the number of infected people increase over the weekend?
– We don’t know that more people were infected over the weekend, but again – communication options have presented challenges for us in the last few days.
– But we try to be in contact with those there, including their relatives. The crisis manager adds that they have the option to call here and send messages on WhatsApp or email, around the clock.
– What do you say to those there and their relatives?
– There are, of course, many who feel extremely distraught and afraid for their loved ones. These are difficult conversations. What makes it very difficult for us is that we are ready to help, but Norwegian citizens, as well as citizens from other countries, are not escaping across the border into Egypt. Therefore, it is important for us to stay in touch and show that we are doing our best. That we transmit information, falsify, and prepare for it when Citizens flee.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has carried out extensive mobilization. Before the status meeting begins, State Department staff from the Representative Office in Palestine, the Embassy in Tel Aviv in Israel, the Embassy in Cairo in Egypt, the Embassy in Amman in Jordan, and the Embassy in Beirut in Lebanon communicate on a screen in the front of the room.
A representative of the Health Directorate will also participate in the meeting.
Løvaas says they have hired all the staff they can.
– What’s high on the agenda moving forward?
– High on the agenda of this meeting and previous meetings for some time is to obtain all possible information through the diplomatic channels that we use, to know when, where and how we can act further to get the Norwegian citizens out. . In addition to those in Cairo, Egypt, we also have emergency teams stationed in Cyprus.
They also follow how the situation develops in other countries.
– For example, in Lebanon we issued a high travel advisory We asked Norwegian citizens to leave the country as long as there are business opportunities. This is an indication that it may be difficult for us to contribute if the situation there develops. We see that in the situation in Gaza now. We are ready to provide assistance, but neither we nor other countries can do so under the current situation. This is also the topic of the meetings – what kind of consequences the recent developments on the ground will have for Norwegian citizens in Gaza and what we can do next. What’s next, says crisis manager Lovaas.
She adds: “It is a difficult picture and a different crisis in many ways that we are dealing with now.”
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