Less than 10pc Indians want to leave Libya

August 03, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

New Delhi: Less than 10 percent Indians living in Libya have expressed a desire to leave the country and that demonstrates there is “no serious threat to their safety,” Libya’s ambassador to India Ali Al Isawi has said.

He said that the North African country was “committed” to providing “any kind of help” to Indian nationals amid inter-militia fighting in Libya’s capital Tripoli and Benghazi that has left more than 100 people dead.

“Regarding the state of Indians in Libya, I can assure you that they are safe,” Al Isawi said in an interview here.

When asked about India’s mission in Tripoli advising Indians to leave the strife-torn country, Al Isawi said the wish of Indian nationals would be respected.

“The request for returning back (to India) came from less than 10 percent of the total number of Indians living in Libya. It is a clear indication that they are safe. We are working closely with the Indian government to give any facility to Indians, to either ensure their safe stay in Libya or facilitate their departure to India,” Al Isawi stated.

Prior to the civil uprising in Libya in 2011 that brought an end to the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, the number of Indians living there was estimated to be more than 18,000. Most of them were evacuated, but a few hundred Indians continued to serve in Libya even during the revolution. At present, about 6,000 Indians are said to be living there.

Al Isawi said that India had insisted more staff be sent to the Indian embassy in Libya, a request he had happily granted with visas.

He said the security situation in Libya had not affected the country’s democratic process and the new parliament will be convened on August 4, as announced earlier.

“The good thing is the violence affecting Libya is not affecting the democratic process. The scheduled meeting of the parliament on August 4 is on; the handing over of power to new parliament is under way,” the envoy said.

He said evacuation of diplomatic personnel from Libya by the United Nations and many other countries, including the US, which also closed its embassy in Libya, should not be seen as an absence of support from the international community.

“The situation was mainly caused by panic. Mainly, some countries took the shutting down of the US embassy as an indicator for themselves. For the US, there was a different situation and different reasons which were not valid for others,” Al Isawi said, adding that the number of people leaving the border had now “decreased by 50 percent.”

He contended that Libya’s diplomatic ties with western countries remained strong in the wake of the internal disturbances.

“The government is working with other countries, giving support to their embassies, diplomats and also getting their assistance in return,” he claimed.

He said reports of Libyan Islamists seeking to align with Al Qaeda affiliates or the Islamic State had to be taken with a pinch of salt.