Beirut, Lebanon to the Philippines – Fulfilling Wishes for Christmas

Homeland International was approached to support with a repatriation to the Philippines for an individual who had died in Beirut, Lebanon. In Lebanon, as well as in every other country worldwide, Homeland has a team member on the ground ready to assist with repatriation which ensures for quick and efficient service. On this occasion, the case had an additional challenge, over and above those normally experienced when managing a repatriation; the date.  It was the 18th December, and we had to work against the clock to complete the repatriation, returning the loved one home before Christmas.

Image of Beirut at Christmas

Repatriations from Lebanon require many different types of documentations to be completed and to repatriate to the Philippines, we must follow additional requirements set out by their embassy. Acquiring all of these documents can be time consuming, as the government offices are located all across the city of Beirut.

The embassy was to close for Christmas from the 22nd December, so at this point we only had a day and a half to complete the paperwork and get the documents into the hands of the embassy staff. The other complication was that airlines at this time of year are incredibly busy, with much of the room taken up by the many cards and parcels being shipped internationally at the last minute before Christmas. Factoring these elements in, we calculated that to secure space on the plane, we would have to book a flight 2 or 3 days in advance.  But in order to book flights, we had to ensure we had collated the necessary paperwork. The worst case scenario would be to book the flight and give the family false hope, if we did not fully believe we would be able to obtain the paperwork in time. Drawing confidence from the strength of our working relationship with local agencies and our agent on the ground, we took a leap of faith and booked a flight in advance, departing Beirut on the evening of 22nd December via Dubai.

Over the next couple of days the team worked long hours, literally running from appointment to appointment to ensure we would make this flight, which was now non-negotiable, as the family had since booked funeral arrangements in Manila for the 24th December.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, our local team had collected the paperwork, translated it, and were sat waiting on the edge of the reception room chair in the Philippines Embassy, waiting for the embassy staff to approve the papers and provide us with their permit. In what was likely to be the last task completed by the embassy before Christmas, they signed off the permit and we were able to complete the process by transporting to the airport and so, we successfully completed the work in Beirut and the deceased person was safely at the airport in time for the departing flight. Judging by how busy the airport was that day, it was likely that if we had booked this flight any later, it would have been full and we would have had to postpone the repatriation until after Christmas, missing the family funeral.

The flight landed in the Philippines the following day and the family were able to complete their funeral arrangements a day later on the 24th with their local funeral directors. We are ever grateful to our worldwide network for the hard work and support they provide us each and every day of the year, enabling us to bring a happy and timely conclusion for families at a time of extreme sadness.