Help for labourers fleeing Libya

Dubai Airports paved the way for the successful opening of Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International for cargo operations on June 27 after the new airport passed a series of operational tests conducted during its first 'live' flight yesterday with flying colours.

By Preeti Kannan

Nearly 1,000 Indians, 400 Vietnamese and 200 Sri Lankans fleeing Libya have travelled through Dubai International Airport in the past week, with more expected in the coming days.

EmiratesDiplomatic missions are rushing to provide food and other assistance to their nationals waiting in the airport’s transit lounges to fly home. Officials said many had fled with little clothing or money.

Three chartered flights have already helped evacuate Indians from Libya and to Dubai. “More flights will be put in place if necessary,” said Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul in Dubai.

The Vietnamese government has also evacuated its nationals, mostly labourers, over the past two weeks. Seven of its nationals flew back to Vietnam last night.

“Until now, 400 Vietnamese have fled Libya through Dubai,” said Nguyen Quang Khai, the Vietnamese Ambassador.

“Our government has sent charter planes to Tripoli to evacuate them. The situation is very tense in Libya and we are keen on the safety of our nationals.”

In some cases, the Vietnamese embassy was providing tickets to fly home.

“Many have no money and we are buying them tickets. We are also providing them with food at the airport,” Mr Quang Khai said. He said more were expected to travel through Dubai in the next few days.

The Sri Lankan consulate has assisted about 227 of its nationals, with about 138 of them arriving over the weekend.

“Many have fled from Libya without taking any belongings,” said Abdul Rahim, the Sri Lankan consul. “A number of them looked very distressed and tired. Some of them even had no money with them. They hadn’t received salaries as many companies have been closed since the unrest began.”

Sri Lanka’s missions in the UAE will be in contact with its missions in Libya to help in the evacuation of more nationals.