– Russia begins evacuating its citizens and nationals from war-torn Syria (Al Jazeera/AP, Feb 20, 2013):
Russia has started to evacuate Russian citizens and nationals from Syria after sending two planes to deliver humanitarian aid to the war-torn Middle East country.
The planes carried more than 40 tons of humanitarian aid, including food, tents and power generators. And 99 people who wanted to leave Syria have arrived in Moscow on Wednesday morning.
“Our current task is to make registrations for the returned nationals. Then we will send them to airports or railway stations in Moscow or Moscow oblast. So far, all the people who want to leave Syria have arrived in Moscow,” said Yuri Besedin, deputy director of Moscow branch of Emergencies Ministry.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry will also offer psychological counseling services for the evacuated nationals, most of whom are women and children.
Moreover, the Russian Emergencies Ministry also arranged many temporary residences for some unsettled citizens. Hotline has also been opened for Russian nationals still living in Syria.
Such evacuations would continue in the future, but they are not a large-scale evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, as all evacuated people had made applications with their own choice, according to an official with Russian Emergencies Ministry.
“I’m grateful to Russian Emergencies Ministry, because they have not left us alone in Syria and sent planes to evacuate us. I think the conflicting parties will make the deal and the situation will get better, as all people are sick of war. We all hope the situation will improve,” said Andrew, a Belorussian citizen.
Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean were also standing by to evacuate Russian nationals if necessary, with additional four large landing ships also expected to arrive in the area soon, a military source said.