East Libya imposes travel curbs for those aged between 18 and 45

Libya has banned men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 from travelling abroad without 'security clearance'

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi

Authorities in control of eastern Libya on Thursday imposed foreign travel curbs on residents aged between 18 and 45, saying they would need "security clearance."

The region's military chief of staff, Abdelrazzak Al-Naduri, said the aim of the move was to prevent people from joining terrorist groups abroad.

“Libyan men and women aged between 18 and 45 are forbidden from leaving the country without prior security clearance from the relevant authorities, in order to put in place the necessary regulations to confront dangers from abroad which threaten national security,” he said.

The permits are to be issued by the intelligence services.

Libya has rival administrations in the east and west, and much of the country is effectively controlled by militias.

The new order comes days after a controversial ban on women's travel was introduced, and quickly suspended.

That order, also issued by the authorities in eastern Libya, prevented women under 60 from travelling without a male companion.

Libyans in other parts of the country are unlikely to be affected by the new ban, because the two rival centres of power do not recognise each other's authority.

The new order is likely to be a temporary one, the BBC reported, citing a military source, and that most travellers would be able to obtain a security clearance within a day.

It is not clear, however, what the criteria for a travel permit would be.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich country.

Eastern Libya is under the control of strongman commander Khalifa Hafter, who is leading the battle against Islamist militias. His government has refused to recognise a UN-backed unity government in the capital Tripoli.

The power vacuum created after Gaddafi's fall allowed the Islamic State group to gain a foothold in the country, adding to an already volatile situation.

An estimated 400,000 Libyans have also been internally displaced during the conflict.

The situation has led to a flood of migrants attempting to travel to Italy by boat, often with fatal consequences.

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