UAE suspends visa-free regime for Ukrainians as thousands flee wartext_fields
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates has temporarily suspended its visa-free regime with Ukraine that allowed Ukrainian citizens to stay in the country for up to 30 days without the need for a visa.
The news was announced on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian Embassy in the UAE on March 1, amid an outflow of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees from the country after the Russian invasion.
The UAE decision went into effect on Tuesday, the embassy said in a notice to citizens on its Facebook page, without providing a reason. Emirati authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
Ukrainian Anna Goncharnco, speaking to Reuters in Dubai where she is on holiday, slammed the decision at a time the "whole world is helping". She lives in the Netherlands, but her daughter lives in Kyiv with her father.
"I find it a crime from this country (UAE) if they don't let Ukrainians enter the country right now and require a visa. How they should get a visa at this moment, it's impossible," she said, tearing up outside the Ukraine pavilion at the Dubai Expo world fair.
More than 650,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring European states since Russia's invasion. The European Union has said it is preparing for millions of refugees.
The UAE, which has adopted a neutral stance in the conflict and called for a ceasefire and diplomacy, said on Wednesday it would provide aid assistance to civilians in Ukraine worth $5 million, state media reported.
The UAE, a major oil and natural gas producer, is caught between its ties to Moscow as well as a close relationship with Washington. Late last week, the UAE, along with a few other countries such as China, abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution that criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After taking heat for that decision, the UAE on Wednesday voted along with 140 other countries in the General Assembly to censure Russia's aggression in Ukraine.