Wednesday 13 December 2017

Irish urged to register with department as border sealed

Passengers whose flights were cancelled wait in Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. Photo: AP
Passengers whose flights were cancelled wait in Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. Photo: AP

Alan O'Keeffe in Dublin

Irish citizens living in Qatar are being asked to register with our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade after its borders were sealed by neighbouring countries.

All flights between Qatar and a number of Arab countries have been halted after diplomatic ties were suspended at the weekend.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and a number of other countries have accused the oil-rich state of funding Islamic terrorism.

More than 1,800 Irish live in the Middle East mini-state, which has a population of 300,000 citizens and 2.3 million foreign workers.

All naval and land border crossings between these countries and Qatar have also been closed.

A Department of Foreign Affairs statement said: "There will be severe disruption from these states into and from Qatar until further notice. You should contact your airline or tour operator for information."

Direct flights between European countries and Qatar are not affected.

There is no Irish embassy in Qatar. The Irish embassy in Abu Dhabi looks after Irish matters in Qatar. It recommended "all Irish citizens in Qatar should register themselves and their families with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade."

It also recommended they follow developments through the local media.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said "Ireland's embassy in Abu Dhabi is closely monitoring the developing situation.

"My immediate priority is the welfare of Irish citizens in Qatar where there is a growing and active Irish community.

"I have spoken with Ireland's non-resident Ambassador to Qatar and I remain in close contact with him. Over the weekend the embassy has been in contact with community leaders in the Irish community and provided updates to Irish community organisations," he said.

A direct flight between Qatar and Ireland was due to begin later this month.

Irish citizens in Qatar can register with the department either through its website or by calling +3531-4082527.

Irishwoman Gillian Ryan, who lives in Saudi Arabia, phoned RTÉ Radio One's 'Liveline' show yesterday to say she had booked a flight to Ireland via Qatar that she could not use. She hoped to fly via Bahrain but many people could not get refunds booked via Qatar, she said.

Irish Independent

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