More than 600 Thai workers have already left Libya and authorities are planning to evacuate another 9,000 thought to be at risk.
Libya exit plans kick into gear
Boats on standby as Thai camps attacked
Libyan pro-government supporters hold portraits of leader Muammar Gaddafi during a gathering in Tripoli to show support for the veteran leader AFP
Plans to evacuate Thai workers from Libya have been stepped up amid reports of violence and food shortages at their labour camps.
More than 600 Thai workers have already left the troubled country and authorities are hastening plans to evacuate another 9,000 Thais thought to be at risk. The evacuation effort could begin as early as tomorrow.
Libya has closed its airspace, so authorities are planning to evacuate workers by sea to Malta, and from there to Rome and back to Thailand, for those who wish to return.
The protests which erupted against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi on Feb 15 may have killed as many as 1,000 people and maybe more, according to news reports.
Those Thais thought to be most at risk are the 9,000 workers in Tripoli and Benghazi. They are among 23,000 Thais working around the country, said Jesada Katawaytin, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Information Department. Most are in labour camps.
He said 600 Thais had already left by road for Tunisia, which borders Libya, to wait out the troubles and they can return to work.
As leaving the country by air was out of the question, authorities were pinning their hopes on evacuating the workers by boat to Malta, or perhaps over land to Tripoli.
Under the sea evacuation plan, the workers would travel from Libya to Malta, and from there to Athens and Rome to board planes from Thai Airways International and the Thai air force to return to Thailand.
So far, job placement firms and companies which employ Thais in Libya have prepared four boats which can carry 1,400 people each to evacuate the workers to Malta.
The boats are moored in Tripoli and Benghazi from which they will take 12 hours and 14 hours respectively to sail to Malta, the Labour Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry said it would send staff to Malta to help the Thai workers, especially those from the violence-plagued cities of Tripoli and Benghazi.
Labour Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said Employment Department staff were arranging the evacuation with the Consular Affairs Department and 30 job placement companies that send Thai workers to Libya. No Thais are known to have been injured.
Supoj Booncharoen, director of the department's Inspection and Job-Seekers Protection Division, said workers had contacted his department from Kufra, a southern district of Libya, and reported that over 300 Thais there were safe but were running out of food.
In Sukhothai, the wives of Thai workers have learned by fax that Libyan protesters burnt a camp of 156 Thai workers and robbed and assaulted them.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, Mrs Thonghoon Saengphoda, of Huai Thalaeng district, said her husband phoned her yesterday to say his workers' camp had run out of food and was receiving no help.
Vice-Minister for Labour Yuph Nana, who oversees Thai workers in the Middle East, said the cost of the evacuation would be borne by the government and not the employment agencies which placed them in the jobs.
"Of course they are afraid right now," Mr Nana said of the workers.
"They don't know what's going to happen to them. They worry about their jobs, they worry about their money, they worry about what's going to happen to them tomorrow,"he said.
exit – leaving การออก
kick into gear – to start working, or to start something working, in an efficient way เริ่มทำงาน
on standby – waiting and ready for use เตรียมพร้อม
portrait – a painting, photograph, drawing, etc. of a person ภาพวาดหรือภาพถ่ายคน
gathering – a meeting when many people come together as a group การรวมตัว
veteran – a person who has a lot of experience in a particular area or activity ผู้อาวุโส
evacuate – to leave a place because it is not safe อพยพออกจากพื้นที่
step up – to increase; to cause to happen at a faster rate เร่ง
amid – at the same time as ท่ามกลาง
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
shortage – when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
hasten – to make something happen sooner or more quickly เร่งมือ
at risk – in danger ตกอยู่ในความเสี่ยง
erupt – to start suddenly ปะทุขึ้น
rule – the government of a country or control of a group of people by a particular person, group or system การปกครอง
border – to share a border with another country or area; to form a line along or around the edge of something มีเขตแดนติดต่อกับ
out of the question – not possible
pin hopes on – to rely on somebody/something completely for success or help พึ่งพาอาศัย
board – to get onto a ship, aircraft, train, or bus ขึ้น(เรือ รถเมล์ รถไฟ เครื่องบิน)
firm – a business or company บริษัม
employ – to have someone work or do a job for you and pay them for it ว่าจ้าง, จ้าง
moor – to attach a boat, ship, etc. to a fixed object or to the land with a rope, or anchor it ผูกเรือ, จอดเรือ
respectively – in the order in which they were mentioned ตามลำดับ
plagued – caused a lot of problems for someone or something for a long period of time ทำให้ยุ่งยาก ลำบากมานาน
consular – involving government officials who represent their country in a foreign city เกี่ยวกับกงสุล
injured – hurt in an accident or attack ซึ่งได้รับบาดเจ็บ
rob – to take money or property illegally from a person or place, often using threats or violence ปล้น, ปล้นจี้
assault – to attack someone violently ทำร้ายร่างกาย
oversee – to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly คุมงาน,ควบคุม
borne (past participle of bear) – accepted as a responsibility (for payment) รับผิดชอบ
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