Foreign Ministry: 37 Bulgarians and their families seek evacuation from Gaza

Currently, 37 Bulgarian citizens and their family members have sought assistance in leaving the Gaza Strip, Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel said on October 18.

Gabriel said that the Foreign Ministry is in continuous contact with other representations of Bulgaria in Tel Aviv, Cairo and Ramallah, and is in close contact with other EU member states and partner states. 

“We are looking for opportunities to assist their evacuation,” she said.

Evacuation is currently not possible, as there is no agreement to open the Rafah border crossing, Gabriel said.

“We have a list of those who have sought evacuation and their families. This list has been handed over to the Israeli and Egyptian authorities. We await permission for them to leave Gaza and enter Egypt. Our embassies in Ramallah and Tel Aviv are ready to assist them to leave Gaza when this is possible,” she said.

Gabriel said that days ago, she had given instructions to increase the level of security in Bulgaria’s diplomatic missions, including in Lebanon, “we are monitoring the situation to react if there is an escalation”.

No information has been received from the authorities in Israel that there are Bulgarian citizens among the hostages of the Hamas terrorist organisation in Gaza .

Separately, national flag carrier Bulgaria Air said that due to the increase of tensions in the Middle East region and the development of the military conflict in Israel, it is forced to cancel flights FB 571/2 on the route Sofia – Tel Aviv – Sofia on October 19 and 22.

The flights were scheduled on the airline’s regular route – on October 19 for departure from Sofia at 6pm with return from Tel Aviv at 9.20pm, as well as the Sunday flight with departure from Bulgaria at 11.30pm on October 22 and return flight at 4.50am on October 23.

The flight cancellations result from extraordinary circumstances related to the increased risk of flights in the area over the armed conflict zone, Bulgaria Air said.

Although the flights were cancelled due to external factors beyond the airline’s control, the national carrier is offering passengers the opportunity to change their tickets to/from Tel Aviv free of charge for one year, it said.

(Photo: Foreign Ministry)

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