VietNamNet Bridge – 445 laborers from Libya arrived at Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi on the afternoon of February 27.
The 445 workers were from the International Manpower Supply and Trade Company (SONA) under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).
Nguyen Van Tao, from MOLISA’s Department for Overseas Labor Management, said five flights carrying laborers have reached Noi Bai airport, adding that three more from Thailand, Qatar, and Egypt are expected to arrived in Vietnam in the evening.
So far, 845 Vietnamese laborers in Libya have been brought home safely, said the department, adding that it will update information about flights bringing workers back to Vietnam. By February 27, a total of 4600 Vietnamese workers left for Libya. Therefore, around 5000 Vietnamese workers are still stuck in the country.
Vu Van Loi was the first Vietnamese back from Libya who saw his daughter at Noi Bai Airport. “I thought that I would not be able to return home. It was very chaotic at the airport in Tripoli, and there were a lot of gunshots. The police had to suppress the riot,” said Loi while he cried holding his daughter in his arms.
Other people shared Loi’s feelings. All of them called their families. “I can’t believe that I’m home now”; “It was very lucky to escape from Libya”, “I thought I was going to die”, they said.
“I thought of death when I sat at the Tripoli Airport to wait for the flight. The food was limited. The police were suppresseing illegal immigrants. Gunshots were everywhere,” said a man named Nguyen Viet Cuong. All of them felt unsafe and lonely.
“Hundreds of people surrounded the airport gate in an unorganized fashion. Many were beaten but they tried to hold on, hoping to get a ticket to return home. We were so lucky to have tickets to come home. To get into the aircraft, we had to overcome a mob of people,” Thuy Que Du, a worker from Bac Giang province said.
Du showed pictures he shot at the Tripoli airport. He said police didn’t allow photos or film at the airport. Du also said that Vietnamese people and even local people were vulnerable to being robbed at anytime.
“We left Libya to Dubai, and from Dubai to Doha and then returned home. It took many days for that journey, especially three days at the airport in Libya. It was raining and very cold. We took nearly one hour to move from the gate to the waiting room with the police’s help. There are many Vietnamese people still in Libya. I don’t know whether they can return home like me,” said Nguyen Van Sang.
They said that they had to leave their luggage at the airport to be able to quickly leave the airport.
One day earlier, the steering committee on settlement of Vietnamese workers in the Middle East and North Africa held its first meeting in Hanoi to discuss ways to safely bring the workers out of unrest-stricken Libya.
Prior to the meeting, which was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, related ministries, sectors and branches held urgent meetings to seek the best possible measures to ensure the safety of Vietnamese workers in Libya when the riots broke out.
According to Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Vietnamese related ministries, sectors and branches have been coordinating with their partners in Libya to evacuate nearly 5,000 Vietnamese workers to Libya’s neighboring countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Malta, Greece and Tunisia.
Preliminary statistics provided with the help from Vietnamese representative offices posted in these countries that more than 1,000 Vietnamese workers were received in Turkey and 750 others were received in Egypt, and were assisted with the necessary procedures for safe return trips.
The first 179 Vietnamese workers landed Vietnam early on February 26 and 450 others arrived home the same day.
In Egypt, 337 workers already purchased air tickets while 400 others working for the Hyundai Company are currently going through necessary procedures to return home.
A representative from the Foreign Ministry said Vietnamese Embassies and representative offices in Libya and its neighboring countries are focusing on handling the issue of Vietnamese workers in Libya and are frequently updating the situation with the Ministry..
Dealing with the fact that almost all Vietnamese laborers in Libya lost their personal documents, the Foreign Ministry instructed embassies to grant them travel permits instead to facilitate their return.
Some of Libya’s neighboring countries pledged to make the transit of the Vietnamese workers as convenient as possible.
At the meeting, the steering committee’s members agreed on the establishment of a center to manage the settlement of Vietnamese workers in Tunisia under the leadership of a deputy foreign minister.
They also agreed to dispatch five inter-branch working teams to Greece, Malta, Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia to aid Vietnamese representative offices and embassies there in helping Vietnamese workers travel safely.