Australia offers Libyan students lifeline

2011-09-01 09:59
Sydney - Australia pledged Aus$1.5m (US$1.6m) on Thursday to help some 650 Libyan students left destitute by the turmoil in their home country to continue studying there.

Acting Foreign Minister Craig Emerson said the loan to the Libyan embassy would support the students and their families for the coming month, as world leaders work with rebels to help plot Tripoli's future.

"These students have come to Australia to pursue their studies in good faith," Emerson said.

"Many are under significant stress, and in addition to their current financial concerns are extremely worried for the welfare of family members in Libya," he added.

"We want to do everything we can to ensure that they are able to finish their courses in Australia, and return home to help in the rebuilding of their country."

Immigration authorities had also promised a "flexible" approach for Libyan students seeking to extend their visas, he added.

World leaders are due to meet in Paris on Thursday to discuss Libya's post-Gaddafi future, despite one of the fugitive dictator's sons pledging that loyalists would fight their rebel enemies to the death.

Thursday's conference, which will be attended by delegates from 60 countries, is expected to discuss funding for Libya as well as police training and diplomatic recognition for its new rulers.

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