Greek ships crucial for the evacuation of foreigners

Greek passenger ships have played a decisive role in the attempt to evacuate any foreign nationals who wish to leave the war zone in Lebanon. Already two Greek ferries, the Ierapetra, owned by LANE, and Kriti II, owned by ANEK, have carried thousands of people from Beirut to Cyprus. The Ierapetra was hired by the French government and the Kriti II by the Swedish government. Another ferry, the Alkyonis, has been rented by the Danish government. The first trip back from Limassol to Beirut was made on July 16 by the Ierapetra, carrying 90 French doctors. The ships and the crews that sail them are under special insurance, since they are entering a war zone. Sources say that, for security reasons, sailors on the ships have limited contact with Greece until their mission is over. «The fact that representatives of many foreign countries asked Greece for its ships to help evacuate their citizens from war-torn Beirut highlights the significant role of Greek shipping and the confidence that foreigners have in its ability to respond successfully to any difficulties that might arise throughout the process, since this is a war zone with special conditions that change from one moment to the next,» a shipping source told Kathimerini. The same sources note that the Ierapetra and Kriti II will keep sailing to and from Cyprus and Lebanon this week until they have evacuated all foreign citizens from the war zone in Lebanon. «The participation of our ships in the international community’s endeavor to get people safely away from the war zone has happened at a difficult time, since there is a great need for ferries in the Aegean, and the removal of ships from regular routes for an extended period creates problems in moving passengers to and from the islands,» a shipping source said. The shipping companies have collaborated with the Merchant Marine Ministry to reschedule some routes so as to meet the needs created by the removal of the ships involved in the evacuation of Lebanon.