– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Thailand is asking Libya to cancel its exit visa regulations in order to facilitate the evacuation of Thais living there, Manopchai Vongphakdi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s South Asia Department, said yesterday.
He was speaking in his capacity as chief of the operation centre set up to handle the evacuation.
“The Thai Embassy in Libya has asked Libyan authorities to facilitate the exit of Thais. If they agree to waive the exit visa, the evacuation will be faster,” he pointed out.
Thailand has decided to bring all its citizens back from the war-torn country as fighting between armed groups becomes fiercer and the death toll rises.
A team of officials from the Foreign and Labour ministries as well as military doctors is scheduled to leave for Tunisia today to set up temporary offices in Tunis and Djerba to facilitate the evacuation.
The Air Force is preparing to dispatch two C-130 transport aircraft to assist moving Thai nationals from violence-plagued Libya.
Deputy Commander Air Chief Marshal Thongchai Chalaemkhet said that the pilots, crew, and government officials have already prepared travel routes and evacuation plans.
The air force has prepared two C130s, which are available for immediate departure, if asked, with the aircrafts planning to land in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is awaiting final instructions from the Foreign Ministry, he said. The C130 aircraft could only carry up to 100-120 passengers per trip.
Other countries including the United States, India and Canada are also evacuating their nationals.
Manopchai said Tunisia had agreed to set up a special centre at its border to deal with the influx of evacuees.
The first group of Thais to be evacuated will comprise of 11 students from the Libyan capital of Tripoli, which is considered to be the most dangerous. The group will travel to Tunisia by land before boarding a flight to Bangkok from Tunis.
This evacuation plan is different from a similar exodus in 2011, when evacuees left Libya by sea, Manopchai said. At that time, there were large numbers of Thai and foreign workers and the mission was urgent.
Also, this time, some 1,500 Thai workers need to be brought back from different parts of Libya, so it will take time.
Manopchai said the Labour Ministry would help follow up on the compensation for the evacuated Thai workers in accordance with relevant labour laws.
Those seeking more information on the evacuees can call the centre at (02) 643 5259, (02) 644 7255 or fax (02) 643 5522.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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