22 killed amid mass exodus of foreigners from 'worsening' conflict in Libya
The exodus of foreigners from Libya gathered pace yesterday as the government said at least 22 people were killed in clashes in Tripoli and warned of a "worsening humanitarian situation".
Thousands of Egyptians seeking to flee the strife-torn North African country were being airlifted home after being allowed into neighbouring Tunisia, while a British navy ship was evacuating Britons from Tripoli.
The transitional government in Tripoli said "several hundred" families had been displaced and there was a "worsening humanitarian situation" in Tripoli, where petrol, bottled gas and food supplies are scarce.
In Tunisia on Saturday, buses started to pick up Egyptian evacuees at the Ras Jedir border crossing to take them to Jerba airport, 100 kilometres north, for flights back to Egypt.
Egypt's civil aviation minister, Hossam Kamal, said 1,796 people had been taken to Jerba and another 1,355 were due to be transferred there yesterday, with five flights home planned.
As of Saturday night, about 6,000 people were awaiting evacuation and neither Libya, Egypt nor Tunisia could say yesterday how many were still awaiting transport. Tunisia had refused to admit people who were neither Libyan nor Tunisian unless they could prove they would be immediately repatriated and were only transiting the country.
Britain's defence ministry, meanwhile, said HMS Enterprise, which had been on a Mediterranean deployment, arrived off Tripoli yesterday. "A number of passengers were transferred to Enterprise by boat and given supplies for the journey," it added.
A foreign ministry spokesman said that most of those being evacuated from Tripoli, believed to number around 100, were British. The operation resembles that used in 2011 during the uprising which ousted Muammar Gaddafi, when a British ship evacuated foreigners.
In the past week, many countries have ordered their citizens to leave and, in some cases, have evacuated them.
More than 400 Chinese nationals were evacuated, Beijing officials said, after hundreds of their compatriots fled the country. Vehicles carrying 411 Chinese workers evacuated from Tripoli crossed into Tunisia early on Saturday, Xinhua reported.