External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Tuesday, directed deployment of additional staff to enable smooth facilitation of return of Indian nationals from strife-torn Libya, a day after the government advised its nationals to leave that country and not to travel there.
The minister, who reviewed the security situation impacting on Indian nationals in Libya, which is witnessing increased incidents of violence, also directed that additional staff be deployed in the Indian mission in Tunisia to assist Indian nationals who travel there by land route from Libya en route to India.
The review was done following an advisory by the Indian mission in Tripoli asking Indian nationals to avoid conflict zones in Libya and use all available means to exit Libya.
Indian mission in Tripoli is in touch with the approximately 4500 Indian nationals through 62 coordinators to facilitate their return and these include about 750 nurses, the Spokesperson in the MEA said.
Several Indian nationals have begun to return using the land route from Libya to Tunisia, he said, adding the mission was facilitating return of Indian nationals and working with Libyan authorities to obtain necessary exit permissions for Indian nationals wanting to return.
“In cases of indigent Indian nationals funds from the Indian Community Welfare Fund will be utilised to assist in facilitating their travel back to India from Libya,” he said.
In the advisory yesterday, Indian mission in Tripoli had said, “In view of the current security situation in Libya, all Indian nationals are advised to move to safer places and avoid all conflict zones. They are further advised to use all available means for exiting Libya. All travel from India to Libya should be postponed till the situation improves.”
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 other teaching institutions whereas a major part of manpower was engaged in construction projects. During the course of revolution, most of them were evacuated to India in February-March 2011.
Few hundred Indians continued to serve in Libya even during the revolution period. Gradually more Indians have returned to Libya and presently there are about 6000 Indians engaged there.
The demand of medical professionals and nurses in Libya is growing. Owing to the uncertain situation, recently the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) suspended grant of emigration clearance to ECR category till June 30, 2014.