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News  


 

Batch of Lankan workers from Libya arrives today

By Rukshana Rizwie and Arthur Wamanan

The government said yesterday that it would work with the neighbouring countries in bringing down Sri Lankans stranded in Libya.
Deputy Minister, External Affairs, Neomal Perera told The Nation that the government had already taken steps to bring down the people by sea and air. “There are around 1,200 Sri Lankans in Libya. We would even operate chartered flights if necessary,” he said.
Perera said the neighbouring countries would also assist to bring Sri Lankans stranded there.
“India has also agreed to help us. We have very good relationships with the neighbouring countries. Therefore, we will work together in bringing down the people who are stranded in Libya.”
He said that the government had already instructed the Sri Lankan High Commission in Libya on the steps to be taken with regard to evacuating the people.
“We have instructed the people to go to the High Commission. The necessary steps will be taken by the High Commission itself,” the Deputy Minister added.
Meanwhile, one set of Sri Lankans who have been caught in the crossfire and rising political unrest in Libya are expected to arrive in the country today, according to the External Affairs Ministry.
An official at the Ministry said that at least 36 Sri Lankans who were employed at the Sino-Hydro Company were sent off when the political crisis escalated in the North African country.
“Many of them boarded the vessel “Olympic Champion” which made its way to Crete, the largest island in Greece,” he said. “They will be among the first to reach home on an Etihad Airways flight which is on schedule this Sunday.”
The official also added that some 300 Sri Lankan workers have managed to make their way to the capital Tripoli despite escalating violence and heavy protests and are seeking refuge with the Sri Lankan embassy in Libya.
Since many of the Sri Lankans residing there are labourers, who have gone through the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, the SLBFE has been tasked to arrange the physical logistical operation of getting them all down.
“There are also some 600 other Sri Lankan workers in Libya, many of whom are living very far from the capital and unable to get to the Embassy. They have however made contact with embassy officials and the embassy has been making a great effort to try and assist as many of them as possible”, the official added.