Governments continue Libyan evacuation plans
Governments from around the world continue to organise aircraft and ships to evacuate citizens from the civil unrest in Libya (Reuters, 23-Feb-2011). Amid increasing chaos, and resignations by top Libyan officials protesting against leader Muammar Gaddafi's crackdown, some flights had difficulty getting clearance to land or depart.
- Turkey has 25,000 citizens in Libya, and the government is mounting the biggest evacuation operation in its history, and 21 other governments have asked Ankara for help getting their nationals out, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated. Turkish construction and airport operator TAV was trying with its partners to arrange the evacuation of its 3000 Thai and Vietnamese employees in Libya;
- European Union states are evacuating some 10,000 EU citizens from Libya, a spokesman for the EU executive said during a European Commission news briefing;
- US State Department chartered a ferry with room for about 600 passengers scheduled to depart Tripoli for Malta. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Americans to leave Libya immediately and said the US will examine “all possible options” to respond to the violence of the Gaddafi regime (Bloomberg, 23-Feb-2011);
- Britain said on Tuesday it planned to send a charter aircraft to Libya to bring out Britons and was dispatching a Royal Navy frigate to waters off Libya in case it was needed;
- Germany urged all its citizens to leave the country, and Chancellor Angela Merkel described as "very frightening" the words of Gaddafi's that he was ready to die "a martyr";
- A Dutch military plane evacuated 82 people from Libya late on Tuesday, repatriating 32 Dutch citizens and 50 people from other countries, including Belgium, Britain and the US, according to the Dutch Foreign Affairs;
- A Ukrainian Il-76 cargo transporter has picked up 170 Ukrainians, including doctors, pilots and engineers who are working on contracts there, according to the foreign ministry;
- Greek passenger ships headed to Libya to collect Europeans and some 15,000 Chinese and bring them back via the island of Crete;
- A Bosnian aircraft was awaiting permission from authorities in Tripoli to collect a first group from among some 1500 citizens waiting to be evacuated, said the foreign ministerty. Serbian aircraft are also awaiting clearance, Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac said.
- Bulgaria evacuated more than 200 people from the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday, flying them to Sofia on board on two aircraft, the foreign ministry said. Passengers included 111 Bulgarians while the others were mainly from Croats, Serbs and Macedonians but also included several Romanians, Chinese, South Koreans and Turks, the government said (AFP, 23-Feb-2011).
- An Air Malta flight to Tripoli was cancelled this evening because of operational reasons, an airline spokesman said. The airline believes the cancellation was forced on the airline due to congestion at Tripoli Airport (Times of Malta, 23-Feb-2011).
- The UK Foreign Office stated an B757 chartered to operate to Libya was delayed at London Gatwick due to a mechanical fault. British nationals have accused the Foreign Office of taking too long to respond to the chaos;
- A Libyan Arab Airlines ATR42 was refused permission to land at Malta after flying to the Mediterranean island without prior notice. Al Jazeera reported that the aircraft was carrying the daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (Reuters, 23-Feb-2011);
- Tajikistan has asked Russia to evacuate Tajik citizens, following unsuccessful attempts by the Tajik Embassy in neighbouring Egypt to reach Tajik nationals living in Libya (Central Asian Newswire, 23-Feb-2011). Tajikistan does not have a diplomatic presence in Libya;
- Russia has evacuated more than 560 of its own citizens from Libya in four services following permission by Libyan authorities to land aircraft at Tripoli Airport (Central Asian Newswire, 23-Feb-2011). A Russian passenger ship will disembark Wednesday from Montenegro in eastern Europe to evacuate Russian, Serbian and Turkish nationals working with a Russian state company in two other Libyan cities;
- China has sent an Air China A330-200 to rescue citizens from Tripoli (Xinhua, 23-Feb-2011). The service will operate to Beijing;
- Romania has sent a charter aircraft to Tripoli to evacuate Romanians (AFP, 23-Feb-2011);
- Tunisair announced it has scheduled seven services in addition to its regular twice daily services, to evacuate Tunisians from Tripoli.