South Korea is carefully considering withdrawing its ambassador and other diplomatic staff from Libya due to the worsening security situation in the violence-ravaged country, government officials said Monday.
Seoul last week imposed a travel ban on Libya for the first time in about three years as spiraling violence between armed militias in the city of Tripoli has raised concerns over security and safety. The move, the highest in Seoul’s four-tier travel advisory system, will be effective for six months.
“The top priority will be put on evacuating Koreans staying in the country,” said an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry. “After that, the government will mull withdrawing its embassy officials from Libya.”
Since mid-July, Seoul has strongly recommended that local companies withdraw their staff or reduce the number of their workers quickly, the ministry said.
Currently, about 20 Korean companies, mostly builders, are doing business in Libya, with an estimated 500 South Koreans staying there. The government‘s evacuation move has caused the number of remaining Koreans to fall to some 440, the ministry added.
Seoul’s foreign ministry has been operating a task force to help Koreans leave the country. The ministry said it will also seek to consult with authorities in Tunisia to check land routes for evacuation.
The 12-member embassy in Libya has sent its three diplomats to Libya’s neighboring countries to support the evacuation plans, it added.
In May 2011, the foreign ministry temporarily moved its Libyan embassy to Tunisia in the midst of a civil war in Libya. (Yonhap)