UK removes travel warnings for much of Lebanon

Country is embroiled in a devastating economic crisis that has plunged many into poverty

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The UK has updated its travel advice to Lebanon, removing advice "against all but essential travel” for much of the country.

The recommendation has changed to “see our travel advice before travelling”.

Whereas earlier the country map on the UK Foreign Office website was coloured entirely yellow or red, much of Lebanon is now shaded in green.

In November 2021, the UK had advised against all but essential travel to Lebanon — except for those areas to which the Foreign Office advises against all travel — due to continuing instability.

Lebanon is engulfed in an economic crisis that has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history and without a president or fully empowered government.

Much of the population has been plunged into poverty since the financial collapse first became apparent in 2019 and there are widespread shortages of basic amenities, including clean water, electricity and medicines.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the deadly 2020 Beirut port blast that destroyed parts of the city have only exacerbated the crisis.

In its updated advice, the UK government still advises against all travel to Palestinian refugee camps, within 5km of the border with Syria and the Hermel region in north-east Lebanon.

It also advises against all but essential travel to Beirut’s southern suburbs — areas controlled by the Iran-backed armed group and political party Hezbollah — Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, parts of the Bekaa Valley, the deep south of Lebanon near Israel, and a handful of other areas.

“Violence between the security forces and protesters, between supporters of political groups and over scarce or subsidised resources is highly likely to occur, often without warning, in particular at existing flashpoints. These confrontations have previously resulted in large numbers of casualties,” it says.

“Weapons are common in Lebanon and groups such as Hezbollah retain arms that are beyond state control,” it says, adding that a deterioration of the security situation could mean there are limits to the support the British embassy in Beirut can provide.

“As well as internal Lebanese issues, regional and international developments can have an impact on the local security situation. This includes tensions with Israel, which could escalate with little warning. Events in Syria and Iraq may also impact Lebanon.”

Updated: December 20, 2022, 12:15 PM