Stranded Thais in Libya Plead with the Government to Bring Them Home

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The government is trying to help at least 19 Thai workers and 8 students who are stuck in Libya and want to come home immediately fearing they will end up contracting COVID-19.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor said The Royal Thai Embassy in Rome, Italy, which coordinates diplomatic work in Libya, has received a plea for help submitted by Thai workers and students in Libya.

There are about 30 Thai workers in a labour camp operated by a company near the Egyptian-Libyan border, about 1,000 kilometres from the Libyan capital of Tripoli, he said.

Among them, 19 Thai workers there are seeking repatriation, he said.

Meanwhile, out of the 27 Thai students living in Tripoli, 8 want to return to Thailand after their graduation while the rest wish to stay on until they complete further studies, he said.

One reason to be concerned about the safety of the Thai workers is the area where they work, which is occupied by Libyan National Army, the rival of the Tripoli-based and internationally recognised Government of National Accord, he said.

Any attempt to reach out to the Thai nationals in Libya must be planned and implemented carefully to ensure their safety, the spokesman said, adding the Thai embassy is trying to coordinate the repatriation through various channels.

The Thai nationals would have to be quarantined upon their arrival in Thailand, just like anyone else.

Flights to and from Libya had been suspended since mid-March.

However, from 9th August, Libyan Airlines resumed flights between Tripoli and Istanbul in Turkey, he said.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, meanwhile, said the Thai labour office in Riyadh revealed the 19 Thai workers were hired by Mellitah Oil & Gas BV Libyan Branch located in Awijilah, an oasis town in the Cyrenaica northeastern coastal region of Libya.

The company is a joint venture between Eni North Africa in Italy and the National Oil Corporation in Libya and these workers had been sent to work there by World Power Service Co in Thailand, he said.

The Labour Ministry is investigating how the broker firm sent the workers to Libya after Thai labour authorities in 2014 suspended job placement services to Libya due to safety concerns over the continued unrest in the country, said Suchat Pornchaiwiseskul, director-general of the Department of Employment.