KATHMANDU, Feb 22: Over 600 Nepali migrant laborers working in Darnah, one of the 10 most populous cities in Libya, have sought immediate repatriation in the wake of the ongoing unrest in that country.
The Darnah-based Nepali workers have contacted the Nepali embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo, which oversees Libya also, asking the government to rescue them at the earliest from the north African country, where more than 200 local protestors have been killed by security forces in the last one week.
"We spoke to some Nepali workers over the phone today," Tirtha Aryal, first secretary at the embassy, told Republica on Monday. "They say all the workers want to get back home as soon as possible." According to Aryal, the embassy has initiated a process to rescue all the Nepali workers who seeks repatriation from Libya.
"We cannot rescue so many workers on our own owing to resource constraints," Aryal said, adding, "However, we can coordinate a rescue mission by approaching all manpower agencies and employer companies." The embassy, Aryal said, could also ask the government to support this mission, if needed.
Earlier on Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) had instructed the Nepali embassy in Egypt to remain on high alert and take possible measures to save Nepali workers. MoFA had also asked Nepali workers not to get involved in the protests.
According to the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), about 2,000 Nepali workers are in Libya. Although a majority of them work in Tripoli, capital of Libya and its largest city, the epicenter of the recent Libyan unrest is Benghazi, the second most populous city.
However, in Darnah, where a significant number of Nepalis work at a South Korean construction company, the Libyan unrest has already engulfed them. Unlike in Bahrain, where the fighting was mainly between local people and police, protestors in Libya have targeted migrant workers, burning their camps and chasing them away.
A month ago, local people had taken under their control a mega building being constructed by the Libyan government to house hundreds of its homeless. They locked up the Nepali workers at the construction site for a few days. Recently, local protestors have burnt Nepali workers´ camps. According to Aryal, they have taken refuge in a state-owned party palace, after spending a few nights in a mosque.
Libya has become the latest country to see nationwide protests, which flared up in a series of uprisings that have swept through north African and Middle Eastern countries. In Libya, locals are protesting Col Muammar Gaddafi´s regime.