“We’re not getting any answers”

Up to 4,000 Swedes are still in Lebanon, seven days after Israel's bombardment of the country began.

Hundreds of Swedish citizens are stuck in the southern regions, considered to be the most dangerous. But as Israeli jets struck at targets in the capital, Beirut, and Tripoli in the north, Swedes elsewhere in the country have expressed frustration at the lack of information from consulate officials.

“This is really bad – we’re just not getting any answers,” said Sonitta Dawood from Gothenburg, who is stranded in Jounieh, 20 kilometres north of Beirut.

“They’ve only got two phone numbers – it’s taken all day to get through and all they said was ‘give us your number, we’ll let you know when you’ll be evacuated’,” she told The Local.

Sonitta visited Lebanon for a holiday with a friend who is married to a Lebanese man.

“My friend has an 11 month old baby and a 7 year old son,” said Sonitta, who has a heart condition for which she had surgery two years ago.

“We’re hearing distant explosions constantly. They started at about eleven on Sunday night. And there are two huge military ships off the coast. We’ve been watching them coming closer and then moving back again.”

On Monday two French guests in the hotel where Sonitta is staying were evacuated. In contrast, the Swedes say they were told by officials at the Swedish consulate that ‘Jounieh is not dangerous’.

“I understand that it’s a difficult situation. But it feels like every other country is talking about doing something except Sweden,” she told The Local.

“They should at least be able to tell us when they will be able to evacuate us – whether it’s two days, two weeks or two months. As it is, we don’t know how long we’ve got to make our money last, or whether we should be buying food and water and medication.”

Foreign minister Jan Eliasson explained on Monday that for budgetary reasons Sweden had closed down its embassy in Lebanon.

He said that it was a misjudgement and wanted to investigate whether similar mistakes had been made in other countries.

“I will investigate our presence in the countries where many new Swedes have their roots,” he said.