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Turkish evacuation efforts wrapping up

03-01-2011 14:49 BJT

ISTANBUL, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Turkish rescue operations are winding down as the foreign minister announced on Monday that all citizens requesting evacuation in Tripoli and Benghazi have already been removed.

So far 18,375 people, 1,091 of whom are foreign nationals, have been evacuated out of the chaos in Libya via 63 scheduled and special flights, three ships, one frigate, and many planes chartered by companies wishing to get their workers out.

"We don't think that citizens who don't want to leave or those who feel safe should be evacuated just by principle. We are not abandoning Libya; we are just bringing citizens who fear for their safety to Turkey temporarily," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a press conference in Ankara Monday morning.

Mustafa Aydogdu of the crisis desk at the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate told Xinhua that Turkey has entered the final stages of its evacuation operations.

In the past couple weeks, Turkey has engaged its most comprehensive evacuation in the history of the republic. There are still thousands of Turks in Libya, with the initial estimate just as the crisis started two weeks ago putting the number at 25,000.

Those in Tripoli and Benghazi have been evacuated, but many in the south of the country were not able to reach the ports to the north.

Aydogdu said that there are already ongoing plans to shuttle people to the north if they are in need of evacuation, organized by the Turkish missions in the country.

There are currently four Turkish vessels in the region ready to collect any more Turks requesting evacuation.

All citizens waiting in Tripoli and Benghazi airports have also been evacuated. Of the 63 planes that collected Turkish citizens, 16 were scheduled flights, 25 special flights ordered by the government, and 22 were military cargo planes.

In addition to collecting passengers, the ferries have also been bringing in aid supplies to Libya, with the most recent arrival Samsun having food and medicine for 1,000 people. Four police officers, a doctor and a nurse are also onboard to provide emergency assistance.

Evacuees are being brought to Marmaris and Dalaman in southern Turkey, where centers have been set up to accept the people. Shelters and buses are provided for those in need.

Since the start of chaos in February 1,722 flights carrying 2, 444 people have landed in Dalaman airport. Dalaman Mayor Ahmet Deniz said that 126 of these people brought by military cargo jet were foreign, including citizens of Holland, Syria, Albania, Egypt and Nigeria.

"As of right now there are no military planes present in Tripoli, however, there are planes waiting in Dalaman airport ready to depart on moments notice," he added.

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Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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