Swaraj Holds Meet on Situation in Libya, Return of Indians

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today chaired a high-level meeting on the situation in Libya during it was decided to send a Joint Secretary-level officer to facilitate the return of Indians from the strife-torn country.

The Minister also asked for funds to be transferred from the Indian Community Welfare Fund from the UAE for use by Indian nationals in difficult circumstances in Libya, the MEA spokesperson told reporters here.

The Ministry has already issued an advisory asking Indian nationals to leave Libya at the earliest and a decision was also taken to deploy six officials in Libya and Tunisia.

Swaraj has directed the ministry to deploy a Joint Secretary-level officer to help facilitate the return of Indian nationals from Libya. The official will reach Libya soon, the spokesperson said.

The Indian Ambassador to Libya has informed that companies, which employ 450 Indian nationals in western part of Libya, have agreed to send back Indian employees at their own cost, he added.

"Tickets are being purchased for those Indian nationals who have evinced interest in returning to India. At this stage, we have confirmation of 58 nurses who would like to return to India," he said.

The Mission in Libya was working with others to ensure that all others leave their places of work.

"Options are being looked at for the move of Indian nationals in eastern part of Libya, that is Benghazi and the other side to return to India," the Spokesperon said hoping the first batch of Indian nationals will start returning before the weekend.

He added the Indian Ambassador in Libya has been able to obtain from the Ministry of of Labour a permission for the departure of Indian nationals. In Libya, one needs an exit permit to leave the country.

He said departure formalities will take some time.

"However, our Mission will work to ensure that there is an expeditious movement of people from Libya should they want to return to India and this is based on our advice that they should return to India," he said.

Prior to the uprising in Libya, the number of Indians engaged there was estimated to be more than 18,000.

The Indian professionals were mainly employed in hospitals and teaching institutions whereas a major part of manpower was engaged in construction projects. During the course of the revolution, most of them were evacuated to India in February and March 2011.

A few hundred Indians, however, continued to serve in Libya even during the revolution period. Gradually, more Indians have returned to Libya and there are now about 6000 Indians working there.

The demand of medical professionals and nurses in Libya is growing. Owing to the uncertain situation, recently the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs suspended grant of emigration clearance to ECR category till June 30, 2014.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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