Members of the House,
I wish to outline before you the steps that have been taken by the Government to respond to the humanitarian crisis that has enveloped Libya as far as Pakistani nationals in that country are concerned.
As you know the security situation in Libya has deteriorated sharply over the last few days. In the absence of a central authority in various parts of the country and large scale incidents of violence, movement inside Libya is hazardous. This factor is also being taken into account to ensure the safety of our nationals.
Most of our nationals are construction workers in remote places at construction sites. Many of them have been abandoned by their employers. Many do not have their passport with them. There are some who have settled in Libya and have families.
Our Embassy in Tripoli is in contact with the Pakistani nationals in various places. It has organized group coordinators for the community for the purposes of maintaining contact and providing such assistance and direction as may be required.
As you know Eastern part of Libya including cities such as Ben Ghazi are not in control of the central government. The Ben Ghazi air field has been badly damaged and not operational. From Ben Ghazi and the Eastern part of Libya, evacuations by ferry and by road to Egypt are only available option.
In Ben Ghazi the Pakistani community is being coordinated by the Principal of the community school. From neighboring cities several Pakistani are moving to Ben Ghazi. Initially the evacuation by ferry to Malta or to Turkey was seriously considered. However, as yet because of the rush as well as high insurance cover, most ferry operators are not inclined to undertake such a venture.
Consequently some 600 persons are now being evacuated by road to Shallom on the Egyptian border. Our Embassy in Cairo has made arrangements to receive these Pakistanis and get access for them at the border. They have been instructed to provide every assistance and arrange their transportation from the border to Alexandria. Thereafter they would be airlifted to Pakistan.
Another large group is being evacuated to Egypt by road to Tubruk for which arrangements have also been made by our Embassy.
On the western side, some of our nationals have crossed into Tunisia. They are being received by our Embassy in Tunis on the border and will be repatriated. Similarly some nationals have crossed by road to Algeria, they have also been received by Embassy officials and arrangements for repatriation to Pakistan are being made.
About 200 expatriates are reported to be moving towards Turkey by ferry. Our Missions in Ankara and Istanbul are making arrangements for their reception. These will also be looked after and repatriated to Pakistan by air.
We are trying our best to get flight clearance from Libyan Civil Aviation to operate PIA Jumbo flights for air evacuation from Tripoli and other Libyan air ports. Because of the uncertain situation air evacuation by other countries has been haphazard. We are trying to organize airlift from Tripoli other fields as soon as we have requisite flight clearance.
As of now two chartered flights of Turkish airline carrying 354 Pakistani nationals from Istanbul to Lahore were organized by a Turkish Company. They were working with a Turkish company. The first such flight reached Lahore last night and the second was expected to land early today. (Arrived early today)
I wish to assure the House that the government will make every effort for the evacuation of our nationals from Libya. Our Embassies in the region particularly in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Rome and others have been instructed to do everything necessary to receive, provide essential facilities including food and medicines where required, also to issue emergency passports and other travel documents as well as to arrange accommodation and repatriation by air of our nationals to Pakistan.
I wish to add that this is a major emergency. Despite best efforts, we do not expect that we can satisfy every each single case. This situation has to be viewed objectively. We have a small mission in Tripoli. It is impossible for any one to provide adequate comfort in the prevailing security environment. The geographical spread and chaotic conditions are major impediments.
The Foreign Ministry has been in constant contact with friendly governments notably the governments of Turkey, Egypt, China, Algeria and Tunisia to ensure coordinated efforts and support to our operation to evacuate our nationals.
I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to thank these friendly governments for sharing their experiences, assistance and support which we deeply appreciate and acknowledge with gratitude.
I also wish to thank to the Libyan Ambassador to Pakistan for his all out support to our efforts.
I wish to conclude by saying that the evacuation process is a challenge that we will meet to the best of our abilities. We are deeply conscious of the plight of our nationals and the Foreign Ministry and its Missions abroad will do everything possible to help.
I wish to seek through this august House the support of the whole nation and in particular other concerned departments and the provincial governments to join hands for alleviating the plight of the returnees from Libya. In this regard the support of the Ministry of Defense, PIA, Pakistan Railways as well as Civil Aviation Authority and other concerned would be extremely valuable.
Last modified: November 23, 2019
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