Libyan evacuees keep Dubai airport busy

Al Maktoum International Airport

By Imran Mojib

The Government of India has hired four chartered aircraft belonging to Fly Dubai to evacuate about 700 Indians, who crossed over from Libya to Djerba, a resort town in Tunisia. The four chartered flights will start operating on Friday.

Al Maktoum International AirportFrom Djerba, where a camp has been set up by the Indian mission, all the passengers will be brought to Dubai, which is hub of the airline, before flying them back to India.

Consul General of India in Dubai Sanjay Verma told The Gulf Today that initially four aircraft have been hired by the consulate on behalf of Government of India. If need arises, more aircraft will be hired.

Speaking about the need for a break-journey, Verma said flight from Djerba to Delhi is a long haul journey. Thus, there is a need to break the journey. However, he did not elaborate on how long the passengers would have to wait for the connecting flights to the Indian destinations.

The arrangement is part of the multimode “Operation Safe Homecoming” launched by Government of India to evacuate 18,000 Indian nationals from Libya. As the situation in Libya remains tense, India has started the operation to bring back Indians both by air and sea.

Being one of the most popular transit points, Dubai is playing an important role in evacuation of Indian nationals from Libya. A substantial number of Indians arrived in Dubai Thursday night on Emirates flight from Triploi.

According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs’ Twitter account, a total of 220 stranded Indians, now in Tunisia, will be evacuated by three different flights reaching Mumbai from Dubai on Friday. The three Emirates flights, including EK 504 with 40 passengers, EK 502 with 111 passengers and EK 508 with 69 passengers, will land in Mumbai on Friday.

Filipino evacuation

Meanwhile, the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai is expecting more Filipinos to arrive from Djerba, Tunisia in the next few days, as part of the Aquino administration’s ongoing evacuation of the 26,000 contractual workers and their families from strife-torn Libya.

As of 12 noon on Thursday, Consul General Benito Valeriano confirmed with The Gulf Today that 896 of the returnees had landed at the Dubai International Airport (DIA) since Monday.

It was on Sunday when the Consul General, Philippine Embassy-Abu Dhabi Charges d’Affaires Adelio Angelito Cruz and four of their staff went to Tripoli and Djerba respectively, to assist Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos and Ambassador to the Libyan capital Alejandrino Vicente in the evacuation.

“Many had flown back to Manila,” he said. “But we are expecting more,” he added.

The PCG and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office staff have been on a 24/7 duty roster taking turns in helping their countrymen at the DIA since Monday evening.

Valeriano has been closely co-ordinating with Manila for the booking on commercial flights from his office in Al Qusais.

He said all Filipinos in Libya who choose to escape through Djerba would be returning home via Dubai on commercial flights.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the United International Private School in Dubai, Binay praised the leadership of del Rosario who silently went to Dubai and then to Tripoli Saturday last week, to personally supervise the evacuation.

Binay also made special mention of Valeriano and Cruz. He said repatriation or evacuation procedures need to be reviewed and studied.

He however stressed the teamwork of the foreign affairs and labour offices in the region, has been commendable, since Arab states have been swept with civilian uprisings.

The foreign affairs secretary at a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday, said all Filipinos would be out of Libya on Saturday.nline/online.js?js=v.1.0.6′ type=’text/javascript’>