Refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Ukraine arrive to Przemysl, Poland, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. AP
Hundreds of Egyptian expats living or studying in Ukraine are waiting to be evacuated from the country soon, Ali Farouk, the head of Egyptian community in Ukraine, said in an interview with Ahram Online on Thursday.
Around 6,000 Egyptian nationals live in Ukraine, with the majority being students, according to officials.
In an initiative to help Egyptian locals who are worried about their families in Ukraine, Vodafone Egypt has offered free international calls between Egypt and Ukraine for five days starting Sunday.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far claimed the lives of 198 Ukrainians, according to the Ukrainian health ministry, and caused tens of thousands of residents to flee from the country.
“In coordination with the Egyptian Embassy in Slovakia, [expats] can pass through the Slovakian borders without a visa,” Egypt’s Kyiv embassy said in a statement, urging expats to send a photo of their passport to the Bratislava embassy via +421907697619.
Hungary will also allow the entry of people coming from Ukraine provided that they carry valid passports and residency permits, the Egyptian embassy in Budapest said on Saturday.
Individuals can cross the Ukrainian-Hungarian border through crossing points of Barabás Közúti Határátkelőhely and Lónya Közúti Határátkelőhely from 07:00-23:00 local time, the embassy said.
They can also cross through Beregsurány Közúti Határátkelőhely, Tiszabecs Közúti Határátkelőhely and Záhony Közúti Határátkelőhely from 00:00-24:00 local time, the embassy added.
On Friday, the Egyptian embassy in Kyiv said citizens in Ukraine’s southern city of Odessa could return to Egypt through Romania, while those in western Ukrainian cities should head to the Polish border.
However, the embassy advised citizens in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv or eastern cities to stay at home or in shelters.
The embassy said Egyptians in Ukraine can contact the embassy at +40726164978 and +48511538378 in case they face any trouble on the Romanian or Polish borders respectively.
Egyptian nationals in the eastern city of Kharkiv, which is one of the hot zones witnessing military actions, and other eastern cities should also continue to stay at home or in shelters, the embassy said, adding that negotiations are underway to secure a safe exit for them.
Egypt has affirmed on Thursday evening the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavours that would hasten a political settlement to the Ukrainian crisis, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.
In a separate statement, the ministry said the Egyptian embassy in Kyiv was following closely the latest developments to the Egyptian community currently in Ukraine and shared the mobile numbers of diplomats in the embassy, including the mobile number of Ambassador Ayman El-Gamal (+380932165877).
The embassy can also be reached at: +380732009984 and +380634779436.
On Thursday, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism asserted that all tourists from countries affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine are welcome to continue with their stay at Egyptian hotels until their safe return to their countries.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday from the north, east and south, launching air and land attacks.
Although Russia and Ukraine on Friday welcomed possible negotiations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will not negotiate until Ukraine stops fighting
People in Ukraine have sheltered underground as Russian forces have seized control of vital parts and continued pressing towards the Ukrainian capital, which is still in Ukraine’s hands.
The United States announced plans to provide Ukraine with $350 million in additional military equipment to fight off Russia's "brutal and unprovoked assault."
"This package will include further lethal defensive assistance to help Ukraine address the armoured, airborne, and other threats it is now facing," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The EU has toughened its sanctions against Russia, but has not extended them to energy or excluded it from the global SWIFT inter-banking system.
The US, Canada and European countries have also announced adding direct measures against US President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister.