Greek govern­ment helps with evac­u­a­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By AGEN­CIES in Athens, Greece and Val­letta, Malta

Eighty Chi­nese na­tion­als were among the dozens of peo­ple to be evac­u­ated from Libya by a Greek navy frigate dur­ing an op­er­a­tion un­der­way on Thurs­day and due to end by Fri­day, Greek govern­ment sources told Xin­hua News Agency.

The frigate Salamis was ini­tially dis­patched to carry all seven diplo­mats serv­ing at Greece’s em­bassy in Tripoli to safety, along with Greek ex­pa­tri­ates.

The Greek govern­ment re­ceived re­quests from other coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, to help their cit­i­zens leave the North African coun­try, as clashes be­tween mili­tias were es­ca­lat­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to sources in Athens, the Chi­nese group was the largest among the for­eign na­tion­als to be evac­u­ated. Apart from Greeks, there were also Cypri­ots, Bri­tish, French, Mal­tese, Rus­sians and Al­ba­ni­ans.

The Salamis sailed to Tripoli, sup­ported by a sec­ond Greek navy ves­sel, the Promitheus, ac­cord­ing to sources, while the Greek-flagged mer­chant ship Eleft­he­rios Venize­los was due to join the op­er­a­tion, since the num­ber of re­quests for as­sis­tance to evac­u­ate cit­i­zens from the war-torn coun­try was on the rise.

China has evac­u­ated sev­eral hun­dred work­ers from Libya and is tak­ing them by ship to Malta, the head of the Malta Civil Ser­vice, Mario Cu­ta­jar, said on Wed­nes­day.

He said the Mal­tese govern­ment was ar­rang­ing tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for the work­ers and was pre­par­ing for a big­ger evac­u­a­tion if un­rest con­tin­ues to es­ca­late.

Cu­ta­jar is head­ing a cri­sis cen­ter to ad­dress the fall­out of Libya’s in­ter­nal un­rest.

China has urged all its na­tion­als to leave the coun­try.

About 1,000 Chi­nese cit­i­zens have left since May but another 1,100 or so re­main, Xin­hua said, cit­ing Chi­nese em­bassy of­fi­cial Yan Jian­qun.

Many Chi­nese have also with­drawn to Tu­nisia, Yan said.

The Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment on its web­site that em­bassy staffers will be evac­u­ated grad­u­ally.

Vi­o­lence has es­ca­lated dras­ti­cally in Libya since the 2011 tur­moil that top­pled its for­mer ruler, Muam­mar Gad­hafi.

Some an­a­lysts feared the re­cent bat­tles be­tween armed Is­lamist groups and pro-sec­u­lar forces in ma­jor cities, in­clud­ing Tripoli and Beng­hazi, could eas­ily turn into a full-fledged civil war.

In the spring of 2011 Eleft­he­rios Venize­los was among the Greek ves­sels that car­ried more than 35,000 Chi­nese cit­i­zens from Libya to the Greek is­land of Crete, from which they re­turned to China by char­tered flights.

It has not been an­nounced which port the Salamis will use at the end of the op­er­a­tion.

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