Serbians evacuated from Libya arriving home

BELGRADE -- All three Jat Airways airplanes that left for Tripoli, Libya, early this morning, have landed in Belgrade.

Scenes from Belgrade's Nikola Tesla International on Wednesday evening (Tanjug)
Scenes from Belgrade's Nikola Tesla International on Wednesday evening (Tanjug)

The flights were carried out in order to evacuate Serbian citizens currently in the north African country gripped by violence and unrest.

The first group of Serbians, mostly women and children, who arrived in Belgrade on Wednesday afternoon said they did not see any major violence in the Libyan capital, learning instead about it "from their family in Serbia and foreign media".

Serbian officials said earlier in the day that the three flights would bring back some 500 people.

It is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 Serbians live and work in Libya. According to available information, none have been hurt in the ongoing violence.

Serbians will be evacuated from Tripoli, Benghazi and Ras Lanuf.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situation will help with bringing some 300 Serbian citizens home Ras Lanuf, where they have been working for Russian companies.

Some 60 nurses, who are currently in Benghazi, are expected to leave Libya on a Turkish ship.

Serbs to be evacuated by air, sea

Around ten Serbian citizens arrived in Belgrade on Wednesday from Rome, and several from Vienna, after they were evacuated from Libya by their employers.

One of the passengers, Novi Sad native Radovan Memorović told reporters at the airport that the British company for which he has worked for four years, organized a flight from Libya to Malta, from where he was flown to Vienna, and then took a regular Jat Airways flight to Belgrade.

Memorović said that he mostly saw Turkish planes ready for evacuation in Tripoli, and assessed "nothing dramatic is happening in Libya".

He added that his daily commute took him 10 kilometers outside of Tripoli and that he saw people queuing for bread and gas, as well as burning automobile tyres and smoke.

Memorović stressed that he did not see helicopters or heard gunshots, and that "the police is doing a very good job of securing everything."

The Serbian citizens working for a Russian railway company in Libya will be evacuated from Sirte and Ras Lanuf by a Russian ship scheduled to leave the Montenegrin port of Bar on Wednesday, the Russian authorities have announced.

The ship will transport the people to Istanbul, from where they will go to their home countries, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass. The exact number of Serbian citizens to be evacuated was not specified.

Serbia's deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dačić said Wednesday the Russian authorities had assured him that over 200 Serbian citizens would be evacuated from Ras Lanuf. There are more than 300 Serbs there.

A group of Serbian citizens was already transported out of Libya earlier on Wednesday. They were evacuated from Tripoli by planes that took them to Sofia, Bugaria.

The planes flew a total of 200 people, who included citizens of Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, China, South Korea and Turkey.