Thais warned to avoid visiting Libya

THAILAND - Relevant authorities have warned Thais against going to Libya - where ongoing violence looks set to escalate.

Trips planned by workers, old and new, to the northern African country should be suspended until further notice, they said.

"We now even have to prepare evacuation plans for Thais who have already been there, in case the situation really becomes more serious," Consular Affairs Department deputy head Prasittiporn Wetprasit said yesterday.

He spoke after his agency and the Labour Ministry discussed evacuation plans for Thais in five countries hit by unrest - Libya, Israel, Iraq, Kenya and Ukraine.

At this point, evacuations have not been ordered because unrest has not affected the lives of Thais in these countries yet.

"Their relatives may seek updates on these situations by calling (02) 575 1047," the senior official said.

Prasittiporn said Libya was ranked at Level 3 on a scale for the severity of emergencies. If the situation reaches Level 5, evacuations are recommended.

Three years ago, Thais in Libya were evacuated in the face of serious unrest. "So, we already have a full list of contacts for Thais living and working there," Prasittiporn said.

Evacuations possible

He said evacuations from Libya could be done via land or sea. If by land, evacuees would head to either Tunisia or Egypt. If by boat, they would go to Tunisia.

They could stay in a third country for a while to see if the situation in Libya eases. But if violence showed no sign of easing, they may be sent back to Thailand.

If the situation in Israel becomes more worrying, evacuations will be arranged, with workers sent to Jordan.

Employment Department chief Sumet Mahosot said there were about 1,500 Thai workers in Libya, plus about 27,000 in Israel, about 40 in Iraq, about 30 in Kenya and about 200 in Ukraine.

He reiterated that workers based in Libya and Israel were safe, saying their relatives at home had been informed of this in writing.