South Koreans will likely be prohibited from traveling to Libya due to the ongoing anti-government uprising in the region, the foreign ministry said.
The government convened an emergency meeting to deal with the ongoing unrest in Africa and the Middle East, and decided to upgrade its travel alert on all of Libya from the current Level 3 (travel restriction) to Level 4 (travel ban), the ministry said.
The ministry, accordingly, will convene a meeting of its passport policy screening committee as early as possible to make the final decision on the travel ban.
"When the travel alert is raised to the fourth level, South Koreans wanting to stay (in Libya) should individually get approval from the government. Based on the Passport Act, we can take administrative measures against citizens staying without due permission," a ministry official said.
During the meeting, officials from relevant ministries and the presidential and prime minister's offices also agreed to step up the government's travel restrictions on other countries affected by the recent wave of pro-democracy protests, the foreign ministry said.
They also decided to set up quick response teams for each of the affected countries, comprised of officials who have worked there, and to seek security measures for South Korean firms with operations in the affected countries.
"The situation in Libya is still not stabilizing and is showing signs of spreading to nearby countries," said Moon Ha-yong, ambassador for overseas Koreans and consular affairs and head of the government's emergency response team in dealing with the situation in Africa and the Middle East.
"We need to accurately assess the situation across our government and check our preparedness," he said during the meeting. (Yonhap News)