European governments and companies are moving to evacuate citizens living in Libya as violent unrest in the country spreads.
France on Monday urged its nationals to return home and began closing French-run schools in the north African country, the European Affairs minister said.
Laurent Wauquiez said around 30 French nationals had been taken out of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, where a tough crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has left possibly hundreds dead.
Portugal also said it had sent a military plane to the capital, Tripoli to begin evacuating European Union citizens from strife-torn Libya, as the bloc’s foreign ministers meet in Brussels, the Belgian capital, to discuss their response to the crisis.
“We want to see proper protection for foreign nationals in Libya and in particular assistance for them as they are trying to leave the country,” William Hague, Britain’s foreign minister said, as he urged Britons to leave.
“Those who are able to leave safely should leave by commercial means. That situation is constantly under review. We will assess the needs for evacuations as things progress,” he said.
The British government has also summoned the Libyan ambassador to London over a deadly crackdown blamed for the deaths of at least 200 people, he said.
“We have summoned the Libyan ambassador in London to the foreign office today to register our absolute condemnation of the use of lethal force against demonstrators.”
The foreign office added separately that dependents of British embassy staff in the country would be flown home, but that the embassy would remain open.
Oil giant BP, which employs a number of foreign nationals in Libya, is also drawing up plans for evacuating staff “in the next couple of days”, a spokesman said.
Around 600 Turkish citizens were evacuated over the weekend, after rioters stormed construction sites in Benghazi and authorities used force against protesters.
“The experience that we had in Libya cannot be told, it could only be lived,” one of the Turkish passengers on board said.
Turkey is planning to send four planes and two ferries to evacuate more of its 25,000 nationals living in Libya, the NTV news channel said on Monday.
There are around 200 Turkish construction companies in the African nation, working on projects said to be worth around $15.3bn.
Some Turks could be also transported to neighbouring Egypt by road and then flown home, it added.