Middle East

Libya unrest: Your experiences

Thousands of foreigners are trying to leave Libya following protests against the country's leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Witnesses say the capital, Tripoli, is heavily guarded by pro-Gaddafi forces, with tanks deployed in the suburbs but the overall area controlled by the leader is shrinking.

BBC News website readers talk about their experiences of the unrest in Libya.

Phil Johnson, in Brega, Libya

I'm in Brega with Serti Oil Company with Serti Oil Company.

There are about 30 British people and we are just sat waiting to get out of Libya.

This morning we were told a frigate was going to land in Brega to pick us up but at about 1500 GMT my boss told us that that would never happen.

This is because there is no immigration or red tape here in Brega.

But I don't want to travel to Tripoli because of what the situation is like there.

The British Embassy people don't realise what is going on.

We have had an influx of around 200-300 people coming in from two contractor camps which were attacked by mercenaries, but we are running out of food. We have been told we have enough food for 20 days but what happens after that, I don't know.

Tony, in a desert camp, south of Benghazi, Libya

There are roughly 400 people here of which there are about 50 Brits.

There have been armed looters at the gates, but so far the armed civilians that are here have managed to protect us.

If they leave, we just don't know what will happen.

The looters have already taken all vehicles and heavy equipment, including cranes, bulldozers and anything that has wheels.

We fear they will target our accommodation blocks next. We need urgent help. The food and water will start to run out very soon.

Doesn't the British government know we are here? Our wives have informed the Foreign Office and they say action will be taken, but when?

We have an airstrip that can land a C130.

We can't move from here as it's too dangerous, and getting to Benghazi would be suicide. We desperately need help.

John, recently returned to UK

Robert Bradshaw, Tibisty, Libya

I work for a US company contracted by one of Libya's oil operators to provide safety services. We are working on a site in the desert called Tibisti, 900km away from Tripoli. The nearest town is 200km away.

We have been trying to get on a flight brought in to repatriate approximately 100 people from here but to no avail.

It appears from our side that the oil operator for whom we are providing services are not being as helpful in our repatriation because they fear the loss of our specialist skills.

There are various contractors on site who provide a whole manner of services and they all wish to leave and be repatriated. I work for the fire services. The oil operators control all the flights within the field and presently are not giving permission to fly.

The only other alternative is a 900km drive to Tripoli which is fraught with danger.

I am very worried about the situation. The Libyan people on site are brilliant and could not do more for us, however they may leave to go home and we might be left on our own with no support or food if the situation deteriorates.

If the nationals leave the power will be cut as we are self-generating. Everything is very fluid presently and can change by the hour.

Karen Ruff, Marske by the Sea, UK

Image caption Bryan Richards sent this picture of Tripoli Airport

I have just spoken to my husband who is on the government's charter flight which is currently sat in Malta waiting for a replacement cabin crew.

He's just told me he is going through passport control in Malta whilst they wait for the crew.

He says there were loads of spare seats on the plane - he had three seats to himself. The air-steward said there were only 130 people on board.

He was given a meal and some water after 27 hours without food.

The captain told them that the cabin crew had been working too long so they were sending over new crew from Gatwick. He was honest and said that the flight hadn't even left the UK and that they were chartering a private flight to bring the crew over.

He was trapped outside the airport for 15 hours. Eventually they were put on coaches to shelter.

He was told to sign a form that said he would have to pay £300 for the flight, although they've since said there's no charge. But he says he would've signed anything to get home!

Communication has been awful - one day it took him six hours to get through to me.

He's just waiting for the new crew to arrive and at least now that he's in Malta communications will be easier.

Andy Aseehusen, recently returned to York, UK

My wife and I are British teachers in Libya.

Image caption "There was barely room to get through the airport."

We wanted to get back to the UK after the trouble broke out and managed to purchase tickets to Tunisia because my wife pushed her way to the front of the queue, (the Libyans give preference to women).

We had to struggle through the heaving mass of people all trying to get out. Fortunately, we were able to rely on the kindness of strangers. We helped and supported each other through the chaos made more difficult by contradicting information and instructions.

Even when we had purchased the tickets, we could not be sure they were valid. We did not know the time of our flight or whether we would actually get on and at one point we were told that we would have to go onto a waiting list - after the Tunisians.

Mobs of people were waiting to buy tickets at the offices of airlines that were open.

There was barely room to get through the airport. Getting through to the check-in area was a matter of pushing through a mob and there were people who had slept overnight on the airport floors.

The British Consulate was no help whatsoever. When we had a connection we phoned them and they did not even know what was happening and were unable to advise citizens.

We rang them several times but they had no idea of any evacuation instructions. They seemed completely unprepared for the potential situation which the riots could create.

We must say that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was also very slow to give advice and deal with the situation.

Gary, south of Tripoli

The group of people I am with is made up of eight Brits, one Canadian and one American.

Most of the local staff have left, we have stopped working, but have been told to keep the gas plant running to supply the west of the country with electricity.

We had a number of incidents on Wednesday. We had our vehicles stolen at knife-point, even though we had barricaded ourselves in after the army security left.

The catering staff and the rest of the staff are due to leave today, as they are now living in fear. If this happens, we are going to take a risk and will travel in a vehicle convoy to a nearby site where the desert landing strip is.

There is a large camp there, also with a number of ex-pats wanting to get out. Wednesday was the first time in two weeks we had internet access. The phones keep cutting in and out, Skype is almost impossible now.

Some of us are coping well under the circumstances, but I really do fear for my life and that of my colleagues. We need help.

Your comments

People have been tweeting and emailing about the ongoing unrest in Libya. Here is a selection of their comments.

@ashour_said in Tripoli, Libya tweets: "Tripoli is quiet, Car traffic is less than normal but it is still better than yesterday."

Adele, from Lincolnshire, UK, emails: "My husband is currently in Benghazi. I finally managed to speak to him this morning after nearly a week. The Foreign Office has been in touch with him today and he has been told that he can leave via the port in BG, not with the Navy, but by Turkish Ferry, to where I do not know. He tells me there is an atmosphere of calm and pride from the people of a free Libya, they are out on the streets, cleaning, because of their renewed pride. My husband's local colleagues have been outstanding, making sure that he is safe and well... After ensuring their own staff in Tripoli where safely out of the country, they have stayed in post to ensure contact is kept open for my husband."

Rachel Beth Anderson tweets: "I'm at a pit stop on desert rode to Libya watching vans piled high with luggage from those fleeing into Egypt."

Helene from the UK emails: "My husband is stuck in the desert, he is in a camp with others. Their food and water supply is very low, they are not getting any help from the British Embassy, there is no news on how they are going to get out! I am really worried. We are all in the dark. He needs help now!."

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