The main focus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to assist Norwegians in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt explained during a meeting with Dagbladet on Sunday evening that intensive, diplomatic work is underway to open the border, get humanitarian aid and evacuate the various nationalities.
– I had contact with the Foreign Minister of Israel and the Foreign Minister of Egypt. We collaborate with other partners. He says we depend on getting food and medicine and evacuating Norwegian citizens.
– Receives signals about border crossing
When asked if diplomatic work was progressing, Huitfeldt replied that he was getting positive signals.
– But there have been such signals in the past, without leading to the opening of the border where citizens had to be evacuated.
On Sunday afternoon, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the Rafah crossing would be reopened, without elaborating. Houtfeld says he gets similar signals.
– It’s some of the same signals we get, and it’s nice to be able to open the border. But I don’t know if that will happen. I want to tell the Norwegians that it will happen. We do everything we can to make it happen – but we don’t know when, or how, it will be enough – she says.
At the time of writing, there are 170 Norwegian citizens in Gaza who seek assistance from the Norwegian authorities. That means around 20 Norwegians have registered to travel to the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours.
– Many are afraid
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held regular dialogue with the Norwegians in the area, but the situation was worsening by the hour.
– Now the electricity is cut off and it is difficult to pump water. Israel says it has helped bring water to the area, but there are many who are afraid – and they have been for a long time. In the southern parts of Gaza they are waiting for food and medicine and others to go out. The Minister of External Affairs said that people are in fear.
When asked if the Norwegian authorities could do more, Huitfeldt replied that they were doing everything they could.
– Like other countries. We want to evacuate the citizens as soon as possible. Diplomacy helps now.
Updated travel advice
On Friday, the Foreign Ministry tightened its travel advisory for Lebanon as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to affect the situation in the country.
On Sunday, the foreign minister says they fear the conflict will spread further north.
– In the event of a ground invasion, we fear that groups in Lebanon could be involved and the conflict could spread. We encourage all Norwegians staying in Lebanon to register so that we know they are there. We see planes filling up, many people trying to get out of Lebanon – so contact us, he says.
200 Norwegians in Lebanon
– How many Norwegians are there in Lebanon?
– Our overview shows around 200 people. But based on our experiences from Gaza, there are actually more people there. Huitfeldt replied that if you know someone in Lebanon – ask them to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so we know where they are.
On Sunday, the headquarters of peacekeeping forces in Lebanon was hit by a rocket, the United Nations said. None of the members were in the shelters, but no one was reported injured.
They also wrote in a statement that there were several gunfights on the border between Lebanon and Israel on Sunday.
Huitfeldt says there is uncertainty about further development.
– Possibilities to travel outside of Lebanon are limited in the short term. Huitfeldt to Dagbladet says that several airlines have grounded their flights.
He encourages Norwegian citizens to contact the Travel Council and register on the Reiseklar app or at reiseregistrering.no.
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