Some 20,000 Ukrainian tourists stranded in Egyptian resorts are waiting to fly to Europe, consular officials in Cairo said on Thursday. They noted that many are ready to head to Ukraine to fight Russian forces, Reuters has reported.
The tourists are mostly in the Egyptian Red Sea resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, with some further south in Marsa Allam. A few have flown out of their own accord but the Ukrainian Embassy is working with the Egyptian authorities and tourism companies to set up return flights to countries neighbouring Ukraine, explained the deputy head at the embassy, Yevhen Zhupeyev.
“Lots of them are calling, willing to come back and asking to return them in order to fight Russian soldiers,” said Zhupeyev. The embassy, though, is only arranging flights to third countries.
Egypt has close relations with Russia, but voted at the UN General Assembly to condemn Moscow’s invasion. According to Zhupeyev, Ukrainians are being allowed to stay in three-star hotels free of charge as long as they need to.
“We’re expecting the European countries to give us a green light to receive them,” he pointed out. “Our allies there are finding the airports which can receive Ukrainians from Egypt.”
The UN has said that the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine over the past week has risen to more than a million; “hundreds” of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed.
Despite the initial battle plan that Western countries said was aimed at overthrowing the Kyiv government swiftly, Russia has so far captured only one city, Kherson on the River Dnieper.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has stayed in Kyiv, has confirmed that the Ukrainian lines are holding. “We have nothing to lose but our freedom,” he added.