2,000 Vietnamese workers evacuated from Libya

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As of Thursday, some 2,000 Vietnamese workers had escaped from Libya that is in turmoil caused by anti-government demonstrations, according to the Department of Overseas Labor.

 

They moved to neighboring countries like Turkey and Tunisia before taking flights back to Vietnam, said the department, which is under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

 

The first flight carrying the workers was expected to arrive in Hanoi Friday, the department said.

 

Meanwhile, another 7,000 workers are still stuck in dangerous areas hit by protests and uprisings, it said, adding that around 2,000 of these are in Benghazi City, while others are in Tripoli.

 

Department officials had earlier said they were preparing to evacuate 10,000 Vietnamese workers from the northern African country.

 

Because all commercial flights have been suspended in Libya, the only way to move workers out of there is to send them to other countries like Italy and Egypt by road or sea, and then send them home by air, said department head Nguyen Ngoc Quynh.

 

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Those who are in dangerous areas will be given priority in evacuation, he said.

 

Vuong Dinh Do, a worker who is currently in a suburb of Tripoli, told Thanh Nien on the phone that hundreds of Vietnamese workers have gathered there.

 

While they are suffering some health problems due to the shortage of food, their main concern was to get to harbors and reach Egypt or Greece, Do said.

 

"We have said that we'd rather walk 400 kilometers to the harbor than stay here, waiting to die," he said.

 

According to Quynh, most Vietnamese laborers work at construction sites contracted by foreign companies and have been sent home to guarantee their safety.

 

In case the houses are insecure, they would be sent to churches, hotels or schools, he said.

 

Libya has been a major destination for many unskilled Vietnamese workers, enabling them to earn between US$350-1,000 per month, according to Vietnamese labor firms.

 

Before the outbreak of the crisis, Vietnam planned to send between 5,000 and 7,000 workers to Libya every year.

 

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