Portugal’s non-resident ambassador to Lebanon has been in Beirut since Sunday afternoon, but is confined to a hotel in the Lebanese capital for 36 hours awaiting the results of the test on the new coronavirus done on arrival.
Contacted by phone by Lusa from Lisbon, Manuela Bairos said from Beirut that the 36 hours end tonight and that she hopes to start receiving Portuguese citizens residing in Lebanon as of Tuesday morning.
Manuela Bairos, Portugal’s resident ambassador to Nicosia (Cyprus), is in Beirut until Thursday to provide support to Portuguese citizens affected by this month’s deadly and devastating explosions in the Lebanese capital.
Indicating that he was not aware of any Portuguese citizen injured or killed in the explosions, which caused at least 158 deaths and about 6000 injuries, Manuela Bairos said that, as of Tuesday morning, if the covid-19 test is negative, it will begin to process about 20 requests for a hearing from members of the Portuguese community residing in the country.
The diplomat estimated Lusa to have about a hundred Portuguese citizens residing in Lebanon, half of whom have dual nationality.
Manuela Bairos’ visit to Beirut aims to strengthen contact with the Portuguese residents in the Lebanese capital and address their concerns and needs.
The objective is also to provide consular assistance in the face of requests that have been registered by citizens who, as a result of the explosions, have become undocumented or have requested the issuing of visas to family members.
On the other hand, said Manuela Bairos to Lusa, there is a concern to avoid, in times of pandemic, that the Portuguese residing in Lebanon have to travel to Cyprus to resolve consular issues.
The explosions, which the Lebanese authorities have attributed to a fire in a warehouse in the port where some 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored, also left some 300,000 people homeless, and there are still, according to the latest official data, around two dozen missing.
The explosions would also fuel the revolt of a population already mobilized since autumn 2019 against Lebanese leaders, accused of corruption and inefficiency.
Since Sunday, the Lebanese Government, accused of corruption and poor management of the pandemic, as well as being responsible for the serious economic crisis, has already had three casualties, with the resignations of the ministers of Information, Environment and Justice.
This Monday afternoon, the Government will meet to analyze the situation, with unofficial indications that it may present the resignation en bloc.