External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday appealed Indians in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, to leave for home immediately as the situation in the city has worsened. Libya has faced political instability and violence for several years now.
“Even after massive evacuation from Libya and the travel ban, there are over 500 Indian nationals in Tripoli,” Swaraj tweeted. “The situation in Tripoli is deteriorating fast. Presently, flights are operational. Please ask your relatives and friends to leave Tripoli immediately. We will not be able to evacuate them later.”
On April 7, Swaraj said India has evacuated its contingent of 15 Central Reserve Police Force personnel from Tripoli after the “situation in Libya suddenly worsened”.
Clashes between government and rebel forces continue in Libya. At least 205 people have been killed in the battle for control of Tripoli this month, and 913 wounded, the World Health Organization said. The Libyan government on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the rebel Libyan National Army, and six of his officers for allegedly ordering deadly air attacks against civilian area, Al Jazeera reported.
Haftar’s forces have reportedly carried out several attacks from the south and west of Tripoli this month, but the Government of National Accord forces and their allies, some militias, have slowed down the advance. The Libyan National Army claimed it had the seized the international airport near Tripoli, which has not been in use for several months now.
The crisis in Libya began with the Arab Spring protests in 2011, which was followed by a civil war. Foreign militaries intervened and helped oust the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. Years of instability followed, with a second civil war breaking out in 2014. The United Nations brokered a ceasefire agreement in December 2015, after which a new government, the Government of National Accord, was put in place, with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as its head. However, the GNA, which is based in western Libya’s Tripoli, has not received popular support. Several militia groups have sided with the Libyan National Army, which is based in Tobruk and is strong in eastern Libya.