India deplores violence in Libya; plans to evacuate 18, 000 Indians

Nirupama Rao said efforts were being made to finalise arrangements for evacuation of Indians from Libya.

Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 00:14 AM IST

New Delhi: India on Tuesday night deplored the use of
force by Libyan authorities against anti-government protesters
and said it was finalising a "mammoth" operation to evacuate
about 18,000 Indian nationals from the African nation.

"We deplore all the reports of violence that we believe
is happening on many streets in Libyan cities. Many lives have
been lost and we hope calm can return and peace prevails,"
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters here.

"The government deplores the use of force which is
totally unacceptable and must not be resorted to," an External
Affairs Ministry statement said.

Expressing concern over safety of Indian nationals in
Libya, Rao said efforts were being made to finalise
arrangements for evacuation of Indians from that country.

"This is going to be quite a mammoth operation. We will
have to not only put in place arrangements for aircraft or
ships but also obtain permission from Libyan authorities for
our aircraft to land there," Rao said after an
inter-ministerial meeting to put in place evacuation plans.
She said government plans to put in place the evacuation
plans "as soon as possible".

She said the airport in Benghazi has been damaged in the
unrest and was not available for use and efforts were being
made to access Tripoli airport.

Rao said a passenger ship that can ferry 1,000 persons
has been identified in the Red Sea and directions have been
given for it to stay in the vicinity.

The ship is expected to evacuate Indian nationals from
Libya to the nearest safe point in the neighbouring country.
Rao said the government has identified Alexandria in
Egypt as a port of call for ships required for the evacuation