Another 184 Vietnamese workers were flown back home Sunday from Libya, where an escalating fighting is threatening to explode into civil war.
The workers arrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport in the afternoon after taking a Vietnam Airlines flight from Cairo, while around 1,000 of their colleagues remain stuck.
The recent arrivals were among 682 workers exported by Vietnam Manpower Supply and Commercial Company (Vinamex) in Hanoi to South Korean contractor Hyundai Amco.
Do Manh Cuong, 38, who left his home in the capital for Libya nearly a year ago, said he and his colleagues have been worried for months.
“We didn’t know how it would be.”
Cuong said he feels lucky for having gotten home ahead of so many others.
A total of 453 Vietnamese workers have been removed from Libya as of Sunday, and another flight on Monday is expected to bring 254 others back home.
There were around 1,550 Vietnamese working in 15 provinces and cities in Libya, most of whom had fled to safer parts of that country last week.
Their employers from Turkey, South Korea and other countries have suspended projects since clashes between Libyan Special Forces, Islamist militants, and rival militias erupted in Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, and claimed at least 50 lives by the end of July.
A 2011 uprising, which overthrew long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi and forced Vietnam’s labor authorities to evacuate some 10,000 workers, has led to a chaotic rise of anti-government militias.
Vietnamese labor minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said she has sent a delegation to cooperate with the embassy in Libya to expedite the evacuations.
“We will give priority to workers in violence-struck areas,” Chuyen said as she received the returnees at Noi Bai on Sunday.
She said the Vietnamese embassy is verifying information that three Vietnamese workers escaped from their workplace on Saturday before their 25 colleagues returned home.
Luong Thanh Quang, a foreign ministry official, said that if war breaks out while Vietnamese workers are trapped in Libya, they will be evacuated to nearby countries.
Jung Buyng-hun, a representative of Hyundai, which helped bear the cost of the evacuation, said they would find work for their employees at other project sites.