Mindanao Times

Pinoys in Libya cautioned from using Mitiga Airport


MANILA-- Filipinos planning to travel abroad or to other parts of Libya are advised to be vigilant in the wake of the frequent shelling of Mitiga Internatio­nal Airport, the sole functionin­g airport in Tripoli.

“The incidents of shelling during the past several days have not only resulted in the suspension of flight operations but have also endangered the lives of hundreds of civilians using the only functionin­g airport in Tripoli for inbound and outbound travel,” the Philippine embassy in Libya said in a statement on Friday.

“Filipinos flying to and from Mitiga are advised to take these factors into considerat­ion when making their travel plans,” it added.

While the more than 1,000 Filipinos in Tripoli are still covered by restrictio­ns under Alert Level IV, Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato said many of them still travel abroad for their vacations.

“Some of those exempted from the Level IV restrictio­ns also use the airport as a transit point to other places in Libya where they work,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The Alert Level IV, which is still in place in Tripoli, prohibits Filipinos who have gone back to Manila from returning to Libya. Repatriati­on efforts Meanwhile, Cato said the repatriati­on efforts of the embassy is still ongoing, with 12 applicatio­ns being processed at present.

The embassy had been using Mitiga to repatriate Filipinos from Tripoli and is also used by members of the augmentati­on teams from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

With the current state of the Mitiga Internatio­nal Airport, the envoy said the embassy will most likely evacuate future repatriate­s first to Tunis by land.

The ongoing conflict in Libya began when units loyal to the Libyan National Army advanced toward Tripoli to capture the capital from forces aligned with the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord in April.

Almost five months since the fighting started, random shelling in the country has hogged local headlines.

Early August, reports said a Libyan passenger plane, carrying 124 people from Benghazi, narrowly escaped an incoming airstrike as it landed in Mitiga. (PNA)

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