Greek government helps with evacuations
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Many Chinese have also withdrawn to Tunisia, Yan said.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.