Announcement

Foreign Office update on situation in Libya

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Information on consular situation in Tripoli and Benghazi and the UK response.

Update at 21:00

We have today helped over 350 British nationals to depart Libya.

  • We have also assisted nationals from around 25 other countries to leave.
  • The Foreign Office in London has today taken more than 1000 calls from British nationals today wanting to leave Libya.
  • The Foreign Secretary chaired a meeting of ministers and senior officials from across Government in the Cabinet Office briefing rooms (known as COBR) at 1000 today.
  • The Foreign Office has sent over 20 specialist staff to reinforce teams in Malta and Libya.

Tripoli:

Five flights have departed - or will imminently be departing - from Tripoli today:

  • A charter flight carrying 78 adults and one infant arrived at Gatwick at 0715 this morning.
  • A FCO-chartered flight arrived in Gatwick at 20.30 tonight. It carried 181 adults and 2 infants. All British nationals who wanted to get on the plane did so and remaining space was offered to eligible foreign nationals.
  • A second FCO charter flight arrived in Tripoli this afternoon. It will return to the UK later tonight.
  • A third FCO charter flight has also arrived at Tripoli and will return to the UK overnight.
  • More planes will be sent tomorrow as necessary.

A Hercules C130 departed Tripoli airport at 1245 today carrying 51 British passengers and arrived in Malta at 1530 local time to be met by the British High Commissioner. The passengers joined the FCO chartered plane and returned to London at 2030. The Hercules capacity remains on standby.

We are also aware of 42 British nationals currently on a US ferry in Tripoli harbour. This is currently the safest place for them to be and we recommend that they stay on board as the route to the airport is now unsafe. Consular staff are in contact with them.

Benghazi:

HMS Cumberland has departed from Benghazi with 207 passengers on board. Approx 68 are British. It will arrive in Valetta, Malta tomorrow. There is no charge for this assisted departure.

Foreign Office support to British nationals:

Numerous Foreign Office staff continue to work day and night to provide the best possible assistance to British nationals in Libya. We have increased the number of staff working in the call handling centre and engaged a commercial call handling service to further increase capacity.

We currently have one Rapid Deployment Teams providing 24 hour support and consular assistance at Tripoli airport. Another team- including two Red Cross staff - are on HMS Cumberland assisting passengers on their journey to Malta. We will send more if needed.

Update at 16:30

We continue to do all we can to assist British nationals to leave Libya.

The Foreign Secretary chaired a meeting of ministers and senior officials from across Government in the Cabinet Office briefing rooms (known as COBR) at 1000 AM on 24 February. Ministers reviewed the current situation and discussed what is being done and what can be done further to get British nationals in Libya out of harm’s way as soon as possible. Meetings both at the official and the ministerial level have been ongoing and will continue in order to facilitate the safe and speedy return of British nationals.

Tripoli:

Three flights have departed from Tripoli today:

  1. A charter flight carrying 78 adults and one infant arrived at Gatwick at 0715 this morning.
  2. A Foreign Office-chartered flight left Tripoli at 0745 this morning and arrived in Malta at 0900. It carried 130 adults and 2 infants. All British nationals who wanted to get on the plane did so and remaining space was offered to eligible foreign nationals. It will depart Malta later this afternoon and is scheduled to arrive in the UK this evening.
  3. Another Foreign Office charter flight will arrive in Tripoli later this afternoon. It will return to the UK later tonight carrying at least 50 British Nationals. More planes will be sent as necessary.

Hercules: A Hercules C130 departed Tripoli airport at 1245 today carrying 51 British passengers and arrived in Malta at 1530 local time to be met by the British High Commissioner. The passengers will join the FCO chartered plane back to London. A second C130 is deploying to Malta and will be ready to assist as required.

Benghazi:

HMS Cumberland is docked in Benghazi and is loading up with British Nationals. It is expected to be there until late afternoon. Over 100 British nationals are already on board, including 26 who were earlier planning to leave by ferry. HMS Cumberland will transport passengers to Valetta, Malta. There will be no charge for this assisted departure.

Foreign Office support to British nationals:

Numerous Foreign Office staff continue to work day and night to provide the best possible assistance to British nationals in Libya. We have increased the number of Foreign Office staff working in the call handling centre. We are also looking to activate options around commercial call handling.

We currently have two Rapid Deployment Teams on the ground in Libya: one on HMS Cumberland helping Brits to get on board, and a team providing 24 hour support at Tripoli airport. We will send more if needed.

A consular team led by the High Commissioner is at Malta airport assisting passengers. We have sent 11 additional Foreign Office staff to Malta to reinforce our teams already there.

Update at 13:45

A Royal Air Force C130 Hercules has departed Tripoli with 51 British passengers on board and 13 other entitled passport holders, bound for Malta. A second C130 is deploying to Malta and will be ready to assist as required.

HMS Cumberland has docked in Benghazi and is currently preparing to carry out the evacuation of British Nationals from the port.

In addition, the Ministry Of Defence continues to assist Foreign Office officials in Tripoli and has pre-positioned a number of other assets and personnel in the area to assist as and when appropriate as part of the overall Foreign Office led response. A number of further UK assets are also being readied to assist the Foreign Office if required.

We continue to do all we can to assist British nationals to leave Libya.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said:

“The Ministry of Defence has had a range of assets in the Eastern Mediterranean region for the last 24 hours, including HMS Cumberland, which is now alongside in Benghazi preparing to evacuate British nationals. Having pre-positioned various assets we are confident we have the necessary capabilities in place to support the ongoing civilian and commercial efforts to help Britons in need of assistance.”

Update at 11.15

Tripoli

Three flights have either already departed or are about to leave Tripoli:

  • A charter flight carrying 78 adults and one infant arrived at Gatwick at 0715 this morning.
  • A FCO-chartered flight left Tripoli at 0745 this morning and arrived in Malta at 0900. It carried 130 adults and 2 infants. It is currently waiting for a new crew at Malta and is currently scheduled to arrive in the UK early evening. There will be a further FCO charter flight departing Gatwick today. Details are being finalised now.

  • Hercules: A Hercules C130 will depart Tripoli airport this morning carrying at least 50 British nationals. Another Hercules is on standby in Malta if needed. Benghazi

HMS Cumberland approaching Benghazi and preparing to dock. We are encouraging British nationals to go to the port. Capacity is several hundred.

HMS Cumberland will transport passengers to Valetta, Malta. We are unable to confirm precise time of departure. There will be no charge for this assisted departure.

Ferries: 26 British nationals should be departing on a Turkish ferry leaving Benghazi later today. We are looking into contingency plans around using more ferries if needed. British nationals at the port already may wish to make contact with Turkish Embassy officials to use this route.

UK response:

Numerous FCO staff continue to work day and night to provide the best possible assistance to British nationals in Libya. We have increased the number of FCO staff working in the call handling centre. We are also looking to activate options around commercial call handling.

We have two Rapid Deployment Teams on the ground in Libya: one on HMS Cumberland helping Brits to get on board, and a team providing 24 hour support at Tripoli airport. We will send more if needed.

Consular staff are at Malta airport assisting passengers. We are sending additional staff to Malta to reinforce our teams already there.