South Asia

South Asian countries evacuating nationals from Libya

Indian nationals from Libya arrive in Delhi
Image caption There are some 18,000 Indians in Libya

South Asian governments have begun evacuating nationals stranded in Libya, as the unrest across the country intensifies.

The Indian authorities organised two flights to bring back about 500 of some 18,000 Indians in Libya.

Hundreds of Nepali workers are also being evacuated. Sri Lankan workers are leaving the country via Jordan.

About 100,000 people have fled anti-government unrest in Libya over the past week, the UN estimates.

Hundreds of Bangladeshis are also reported to have been stuck at Tripoli's airport for more than a week, saying that their government has not been able to evacuate them.

Last week the Bangladeshi authorities said that plans had been made to evacuate tens of thousands of Bangladeshi nationals in Libya, should the need arise.

India has also sent three warships to help with the evacuation. Two flights operated by the state-owned airline Air India have brought back 530 passengers since late Saturday.

A passenger ferry has also arrived in the Libyan city of Benghazi and will take evacuees to Alexandria in Egypt, from where they will be flown home.

About 3,000 Indians are in Benghazi working for car companies and hospitals.

'Relief'

Mohammed Sali, the first Indian to make it back home, told the BBC that he was robbed of all his possessions at knifepoint as he reached Tripoli airport

Another passenger, Gigi John, said it was a "miracle" that the evacuees managed to "get out of Libya, safe and sound".

Many of the Indians in Libya come from the south of the country.

States like Kerala rely on the remittances sent back by millions of migrants working in Arab countries, and this is now an extremely anxious times for all their families.

Their relief at returning home was mixed with concern for those they left behind - some of whom they said were in remote industrial plants, where food and water was running out, says the BBC's Mark Dummett.

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