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Flee Libya soon as possible, DFAT advises Australians

August 5, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued an urgent alert over the weekend advising Australians in Libya to “depart immediately if it is safe to do so” and to contact their airlines or travel agent to find the best means.

DFAT issued a similar warning about Iraq in June. Libya has “do not travel” status (as does Iraq), the highest of DFAT’s four advisory echelons. Much of the Middle East and North Africa is experiencing major turmoil, even by the volatile standards of the region, the world’s most turbulent.

DFAT advises that commercial departure options are still available from Libya.

“A limited number of flights are leaving Misrata and Maitega airports for Cairo, Malta, Tunis and Istanbul. Flight schedules may change at short notice. You should contact your airline or travel agent for details. Australians in Libya who require assistance to depart should urgently contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24-hour Consular Operations Centre on +61 2 62613305 or the Australian Embassy in Rome on +39 06 85 2721.

“We continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel to Libya due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the ongoing threat of kidnapping and the unpredictable security situation throughout the country.

“Australians who choose to remain in Libya should ensure that they have appropriate personal security measures in place.

“Tripoli International Airport is closed until further notice following clashes between armed groups in the areas around the airport. Contact your airline for information on flight disruptions.

“On 26 July, the US Government advised that staff at the US Embassy in Tripoli have been evacuated. The United Nations has temporarily reduced its staff numbers at its support mission in Libya due to safety and security concerns.

“Acts of terrorism in Libya are frequent and focus on Libyan government and Western interests. Acts of terrorism occur throughout Libya, most notably in the region around Benghazi, but also in the southern desert regions and in Tripoli.     Well-armed militias remain unchecked in many parts of Libya, and serious security incidents are frequent.”

A final word of warning from DFAT: “You should be aware that the Australian government’s ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Libya remains extremely limited.”

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are battling in the Gaza strip, a long-running civil war continues to rage in Syria and civil unrest continues in Egypt. Iraq is extremely dangerous; DFAT issued a terrorism alert for Iraq last month and advised Australians in Iraq to depart immediately while commercial flights continue to operate and Baghdad International Airport remains open.

“There has been a further withdrawal of Australian officials from the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. We will retain a diplomatic presence in Baghdad, but due to the situation the embassy is closed to the public until further notice,” DFAT advised.

For the record, DFAT’s advice for the region (as at 5 August 2014) is as follows:

Algeria: Reconsider your need to travel.

Bahrain: Reconsider your need to travel.

Egypt: Reconsider your need to travel.

Iran: Reconsider your need to travel.

Iraq: Do not travel.

Israel and the West Bank: Exercise a high degree of caution.

Gaza Strip: Do not travel.

Jordan: Exercise a high degree of caution.

Kuwait: Exercise a high degree of caution.

Lebanon: Reconsider your need to travel.

Libya: Do not travel.

Morocco: Exercise a high degree of caution.

Oman: Exercise normal safety precautions.

Qatar: Exercise normal safety precautions.

Saudi Arabia: Reconsider your need to travel.

Syria: Do not travel.

United Arab Emirates: Exercise normal safety precautions.

Yemen: Do not travel.

Written by : Peter Needham

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