SA nationals arrive from Libya

2011-02-28 07:20

Thirty South Africans who were evacuated from Libya landed on home

soil today after political unrest reached boiling point in the North African

country, the international relations and co-operation department said.


“They are all quite happy to be here and many of them are reuniting

with their families,” said spokesperson Clayson Monyela.


Ten other foreigners who were also evacuated arrived with them at

the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria after midnight.


One was a British national and nine were from neighbouring

Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Mozambique.


“Some of them were working there and others were students,” said

Monyela.


Last night, the SA embassy in Libya was shut down and the employees

flown back to South Africa. They were among the 30.


“We were gravely concerned about their circumstances and there was

a security concern. The embassy has now been totally shut down,” said

Monyela.


“Our decision was to get them out as their safety was our main

priority.”


None of them was injured.


He explained that during the unrest in Libya, the embassy staff

were in constant contact with the group to make sure they were safe.


A massive revolt erupted in Libya, one of Africa’s biggest oil

producers, against long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.


Government forces and regime opponents have reportedly been in

violent clashes with witnesses describing events as a “civil war”.


Some 4 600 people fleeing the violence in Libya, mostly Chinese

nationals, reportedly departed to the Greek ports of Piraeus and Heraklion on

Sunday. Three Greek ferries evacuated more than 7 000 foreign nationals from

Libya.


The South African government earlier this month urged all Libyans

to find a speedy and peaceful resolution to the crisis in their country.


Government continued to monitor the situation with interest and

called on all parties involved to exercise restraint to prevent further loss of

life.


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