ASTANA – Kazakhstan faced the challenge of returning its citizens from the Gaza Strip, as the evacuation of foreigners and wounded persons through the Rafah checkpoint has been temporarily suspended since Nov. 4, Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Aibek Smadiyarov said at a Nov. 6 briefing.
The evacuation of foreign citizens and Palestinians with dual citizenship commenced on Nov. 1, but three days later, it was suspended due to specific requirements set by Egyptian and Israeli authorities.
According to them, each country is given a designated date for their citizens to pass through the Rafah checkpoint, considering the daily throughput capacity of around 500 people and the lists provided by embassies of about 45 countries, encompassing nearly 7,000 people.
Presently, there are 76 Kazakh citizens in the Gaza Strip, with 161 individuals, including family members. Around a third are not subject to evacuation according to the specific departure requirements of Egyptian and Israeli authorities.
Thus, some Kazakh citizens are not ready to leave the Gaza Strip, as it is impossible to evacuate their adult children, spouses, grandchildren, and spouses of children.
Since escalating tensions in the Gaza Strip, the Kazakh embassies in Jordan and Egypt have been working to arrange the safe evacuation of Kazakh citizens through the Rafah checkpoint, facilitate their further transportation, and assist with appropriate documentation for crossing international borders.
While they consistently update a list of Kazakh citizens and their relatives located in the conflict zone, the Embassy in Cairo conducts daily negotiations with Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other competent authorities on the conditions for the evacuation of citizens.
Alongside the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the International Organization for Migration, the Kazakh embassies maintain ongoing contact with each citizen residing in the enclave through a special chat in the messenger.
As stated by Smadiyarov, the ministry does its utmost to expedite the evacuation process. Still, not all factors are within their control, as the world struggles to resolve this military-diplomatic crisis.
“As soon as our citizens cross the Egyptian border, a special evacuation plane will fly to Cairo,” he informed.
The ministry monitors the situation throughout the Middle East region, which regrettably tends to escalate, Smadiyarov added.