UAE flies aid to Libya as labour rescue continues

Worker evacuation continues but thousands have been abandoned by firms

Bangladeshi workers take shelter from the rain as they wait for evacuation (Getty Images)
Bangladeshi workers take shelter from the rain as they wait for evacuation (Getty Images)
Vietnamese migrant workers fleeing the chaos in Libya arrive via Dubai at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport (Getty Images)
Vietnamese migrant workers fleeing the chaos in Libya arrive via Dubai at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport (Getty Images)
Bangladeshi men wait to be taken to a transit camp after arriving into Tunisia (Getty Images)
Bangladeshi men wait to be taken to a transit camp after arriving into Tunisia (Getty Images)
Bangladeshi workers arrive at a facility at the Giuliana pier in the port of Benghazi (Getty Images)
Bangladeshi workers arrive at a facility at the Giuliana pier in the port of Benghazi (Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi worker arrives at a facility at Giuliana pier in the port of Benghazi (Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi worker arrives at a facility at Giuliana pier in the port of Benghazi (Getty Images)

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The UAE and Turkey have joined forces to fly humanitarian aid to Libya but thousands of construction workers remain stranded in the country.

During a meeting between high-ranking officials UAE and Turkish officials, ministers affirmed their support for the people of Libya and confirmed that two UAE-owned aircraft will fly aid to the country via Turkey.

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu met last week and condemned the acts of violence and destruction and called on the Libyan authorities to immediately refrain from violence.

The UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, estimates that 100,000 people have fled Libya to neighbouring countries during the past week as the global effort to evacuate stranded workers, many of whom have been under attack by armed gangs, from the country continues.

According to the UN, at least 20,000 Chinese, 15,000 Turks and 1,400 Italians have been evacuated from Libya by land, sea and air in recent days. Many have escaped by chartered boat to Malta, Greece and Italy, while hundreds of other foreigners, including Egyptians, Iraqis and Syrians, have fled Libya into Algeria through the Sahara Desert. Vietnamese media has reported that workers are returning home, including 200 Vietnamese workers that arrived in the UAE en-route to Hanoi on Saturday.

Despite these efforts, there are concerns that many migrant workers from poorer countries in South East Asia and West Africa remain stranded in Libya.

Migrante International, a support group for overseas Filipino workers, said Filipinos had been "abandoned in workers' camps in Libya to fend for themselves that many of them by their foreign employers".

Indian, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh nationals are also stranded in the port of the eastern city of Benghaz without passports or cash, and little hope for escape.

In some cases, workers remain on sites without power or water. One Bangladeshi worker told news agency AFP that he and 17 other workers were trapped inside a desert work site after their employers abandoned them.

"The protesters shoot people on sight, it's not safe to go out. We don't have food and money. We are almost starving. Nobody can imagine how dangerous the situation is. They told us we would have to find our own way out of the country," he said.

Meanwhile, relatives of stranded workers blocked a key highway near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in protest of their government's handling of the crisis and to appeal for further action.

It is estimated that 60,000 Bangladeshi nationals are employed in Libya and while the Bangladesh government has moved to bring home 6,000 workers it is having to appeal to aid agencies to help the thousands that remain.

Foreign secretary Mijarul Quayes told the media that 1,104 Bangladeshi workers had already left Libya and thousands more would be evacuated with the assistance of Korean and Malaysian employers and international agencies.

He added: "The government has contacted the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross to evacuate Bangladeshis from Libya to neighbouring countries or safe areas on Libyan borders."

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