Manila to evacuate 13,000 from Libya

The Philippines is preparing to evacuate 13,000 citizens from Libya, as violence continued to rage and a Filipino worker was beheaded and a nurse gang-raped there.

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At the same time, Greece was sending a warship to evacuate some of its nationals as well as some from other countries, while Spain is pulling out most of its embassy staff.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was heading to neighbouring Tunisia to organise an evacuation, as fighting resumed between militias seeking to control the Libyan capital’s crippled international airport.

Del Rosario said he was repeating a 2011 mission that evacuated thousands of Filipino workers during the uprising that toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“Our major challenge, as in 2011, is to convince our folks that they must leave Libya at the soonest time to avoid the perils of a highly exacerbating situation there,” he told reporters in Manila.

The Philippines ordered an evacuation on July 20, hours after the discovery in the eastern city of Benghazi of the beheaded remains of a Filipino construction worker who had been abducted.

Manila also imposed a travel ban to the North African country, which has been plagued by violence since Gaddafi’s overthrow.

On Wednesday, a Filipina nurse was abducted by a gang of youths outside her residence in Tripoli and gang-raped before being released two hours later, the foreign department said.

Despite the dangers, del Rosario said many of the Filipinos, mostly construction and health workers, are refusing to leave because they would be unemployed back home.

In Athens, meanwhile, an official said a navy frigate was en route to Libya to evacuate some 200 people, including diplomatic staff and the Spanish foreign ministry said it was pulling its ambassador and all but one of the embassy’s staff due to the worsening security situation.

The United States, Canada, France and Brazil have temporarily shuttered their embassies in Tripoli, while several Western countries and Egypt have advised their citizens to leave immediately.

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