55 Maltese nationals to fly back from Libya, around 40 decide to stay

55 Maltese nationals take up offer to travel to Malta on flights paid by government

55 Maltese citizens have taken up the offer to travel out of Libya on two flights organised by government. Yesterday, government warned Maltese citizens to exit the war-torn North African country immediately and two flights were organised to fly from Tripoli and Labraq in eastern Libya.

In a media briefing held this afternoon, principle permanent secretary Mario Cutajar, who heads Malta’s contingency centre, said that a Medavia flight leaving from the Mitiga air base outside Tripoli will be carrying 41 persons while another flight will be leaving Labraq with 14 Maltese nationals.

The flights are expected to reach Malta this evening, however Cutajar explained that due to delays which were beyond government’s control he could not give an exact time when the two planes will land in Malta.

He said that the crisis centre has been working around the clock and over the past 24 hours, all Maltese citizens in Libya which government is aware of were contacted and offered the opportunity to fly on the flights which were paid for by government.

However not all Maltese citizens took up the offer and the number of Maltese citizens who remain in Tripoli, Benghazi and the oil fields amount to around 40. However the number could increase.

The advisory wasn’t termed an “evacuation”, because Malta’s diplomatic mission in Tripoli will continue operating. The consulate will be suspending operations as from tomorrow and the diplomatic staff is expected to reach Malta in the coming days.

However for the time being, ambassador Manny Galea will be remaining in Tripoli. Malta and Italy are the only European countries to have a diplomatic presence in the Libyan capital.