viernes, 25 de febrero de 2011

Libya evacuation: Cameron pledge on remaining Britons

 
David Cameron: "In the last 24 hours there have been six flights out and there will be more if necessary" 
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the government "will do everything it can" to evacuate safely up to 500 Britons left in Libya.
After about 500 Britons left by plane and ship on Thursday, Mr Cameron said those remaining "need to leave now".
He said action was being taken "right now" to help British oil workers in remote desert areas, and the Royal Navy's HMS York was going to the area.
The evacuation was earlier criticised as slow, for which the PM apologised.
On Friday morning, Mr Cameron chaired meetings of the National Security Council and Cobra emergency committee, which includes Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen Sir David Richards.
The Foreign Office (FCO) has given details of flights returning British nationals to the UK:
  • A flight chartered by oil company BP carrying 79 Britons landed at Gatwick airport on Thursday morning
  • A later FCO-chartered flight carrying 181 adults and two children, including 113 Britons, landed at 2030 GMT on Thursday
  • Another FCO-chartered flight arrived at Gatwick at 0315 GMT on Friday, carrying 130 people including 53 Britons
  • A charter flight carrying three Britons arrived at Stansted airport at 0530 GMT
  • A further commercial plane is still on the ground at Tripoli airport and due to take off later as part of the government's evacuation effort
An FCO statement said: "The security situation at the airport has been deteriorating in recent hours and the route to the airport is becoming more precarious. We continue to monitor the situation closely."
British nationals speak of "disastrous" evacuation from Libya
Consular staff were with 42 British nationals currently on a US ferry in Tripoli harbour, who had been advised to "stay on board as the route to the airport is now unsafe", the statement said.
The frigate HMS Cumberland has picked up 207 people including 68 British nationals from Benghazi and is due to arrive late today in Malta, where evacuees can pick up flights to the UK.
An FCO spokesperson denied a report that bribes had been paid to officials at Tripoli airport.
Charges applied to all countries and carriers using the airport had increased during the current unrest, the spokesperson said, adding: "We have had to pay them, the alternative being to leave hundreds of British nationals stranded in Tripoli."
More than 1,000 calls had been made to the Foreign Office in London in the last 24 hours by Britons wanting to leave Libya, relatives and colleagues, the FCO said.
'Fiasco' Several people who arrived back at Gatwick on Thursday described the Foreign Office's response as "disastrous".
They complained about being cold, wet and hungry while waiting 14 hours for the plane to arrive and take them home.

Stuck in the desert

Time goes slowly when you're stuck in a country in turmoil (writes an anonymous oil worker based on the outskirts of Tripoli).
Mobile communications have been down for several days now, and the internet is sporadic at best.
We have been depending on a generator for much of our electricity, so have managed to keep a semblance of normal life ongoing.
We have enough supplies to last for two months, but fresh food and bread are luxuries we shall have to wait for. At night we sit and worry about our colleagues in other parts of the country, wondering whether they are safe.
Some of you may be wondering why I'm still here. Well, the reason is simple. I have four men still stuck in the desert, and I won't be leaving the country until they have been safely evacuated.
One told the BBC: "If the government's going to do something it needs to pull its finger out and actually physically do something."
Another said: "The people on the ground from the British embassy, when we finally found them at the airport, they couldn't have been better. But the communication with London, it was just a fiasco."
One of the lucky ones to get out was a British woman who was airlifted with her newborn baby by an Irish government Learjet.
The woman, who had a Caesarean section, was evacuated to Malta with her husband and two other children.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has criticised the government's reaction to the crisis.
He said: "I'm afraid the government has been slow off the mark and lessons need to be learned, but the priority now is to get those British citizens out as soon as possible. That's why the prime minister needs to get a grip on the situation."
Mr Cameron has apologised for the speed of the government's response and said lessons would be learned from it.
'Seizing the moment' He discussed Libya on the telephone with US President Barack Obama on Thursday night.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The prime minister updated the president on his trip to the Middle East, stressing the importance of seizing this moment of opportunity for change in the region. y

Foreign Office helpline

  • UK nationals in Libya wishing to get on the charter flights are advised to call the following numbers: 020 7008 0000 from the UK or 021 3403644/45 from Libya 
"The leaders discussed Libya and agreed to work together closely on the swift evacuation of nationals. They also agreed to co-ordinate on possible multilateral measures on Libya, including at the UN Human Rights Council on Monday."
The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton, said the bloc was considering sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, to "put as much pressure as possible" on Libya to stop the violence.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Cameron expressed support for an investigation into whether the Libyan regime had committed "war crimes" in its crackdown on anti-government protests.
"The message is very clear: that the violence we have seen is appalling and unacceptable," he said.
He added: "People working for this regime should remember that international justice has a long reach and a long memory and they will be held to account for what they do."
UK nationals wishing to register an interest in flights out of Libya should call 020 7008 0000 from the UK or 021 3403644/45 from Libya.