Egypt announced on Thursday that any Russian and Ukrainian visitors stranded in the country as a result of flight delays caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be looked after.
Tourists from countries with disrupted air travel would be entitled to “remain in the hotels where they are in Egypt until their safe return home,” according to the Tourism Ministry.
The decision came following a flurry of airline cancellations after Russia moved troops across the Ukrainian border early Thursday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday which killed several civilians and prompted thousands of residents to flee their homes was the worst attack on a European country since WWII.
The UN refugee agency has said an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes and several thousand others have crossed into neighboring countries, mainly Romania and Moldova.
Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the frontier in several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south, the agency said.
Flights have been cancelled from 11 airports in southern Russia and one airport in Moscow-annexed Crimea, according to Russia’s leading aviation body.
Flights to Ukraine have been cancelled by Air France and Lufthansa, respectively.
While the West has imposed further sanctions on Russia, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry advised “conversation and diplomatic solutions” to avoid “escalation” on Thursday.
Tourism accounts for around 10% of Egypt’s GDP, with a third of the country’s 100 million people living in poverty.
Unrest linked to the 2011 uprising, extrem⁰ist assaults, and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak have all wreaked havoc on the sector during the last decade.
Following a Russian prohibition after the downing of a jet in 2015 that killed 224 largely Russian passengers, direct flights from Russia to the Egyptian Red Sea vacation town of Sharm el-Sheikh were only reinstated last year. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that incident.
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