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Taoiseach praises successful evacuation of Irish citizens from Libya

Consular, Security, Travel, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, 2011

The Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen, today welcomed the successful evacuation of Irish citizens from Libya and paid tribute to the work of all those involved in ensuring that they arrived at their destinations safe and well.

The Taoiseach praised the professionalism and skill of all those involved in the operation. Mr Cowen said, “I am delighted that those citizens seeking to leave Libya have been safely evacuated. I want to pay tribute to the combined efforts of the Irish rescue services, in particular the Air Corps, who under the overall coordination of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and with the assistance of the Garda Síochána, were central to an operation that involved the safe evacuation of over 115 Irish nationals and family members.The operation was led by the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre which provided round the clock assistance and information to the families and relatives of those caught up in the events in Libya. Members of the Emergency Consular Assistance Team were deployed to Libya and officials from Ireland’s Embassies throughout Europe were mobilised to assist the evacuees and to help with their welfare and onward journeys. The Department is continuing to liaise with all Irish citizens who have remained in Libya and will do so until such time as the current crisis is over. Where citizens decide that they wish to leave Libya, the Department will advise them on all available options”.

Responding to the small number of persons who have criticised the rescue effort, the Taoiseach said: “I very much sympathise with those who went through the traumatic ordeal of having to get out of Libya in very difficult and dangerous circumstances, as well as with their  families who feared for their safety. This was a complex and difficult mission undertaken in a volatile environment, with limited resources and local knowledge and no permanent presence on the ground.  Against that background, the successful evacuation is testament to the professionalism and skill of all those involved and the support and assistance of other European States”.

The Taoiseach expressed his gratitude for the work of the EU Emergency Coordination mechanism in which Ireland participated.  He said that no one country can deal with a rescue effort alone, adding that the cooperation between Member States and non-EU Members was an important element in ensuring a successful outcome. 

In the light of these events and similar events elsewhere in the region, the Taoiseach appealed once again to all Irish citizens around the world to register with their local Embassy or, in countries with no accredited Embassy, with the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and to ensure that such information is kept up to date.

Note for Editors

The rescue effort involved the deployment to Malta of three Air Corps aircraft, together with personnel, and the Emergency Civilian Assistance Team (a team of Government officials and a member of the Garda Síochána and Defence Forces trained in civilian rescue and response).  There they were joined by Ireland’s Ambassador to Italy (accredited to Libya) to direct the rescue effort.  The aircraft made several flights into Tripoli, with team members leading in the evacuation of Irish and other EU citizens.  Irish citizens were also assisted to board flights and ships from a number of EU countries.

Several of Ireland’s Embassies throughout Europe were involved in the evacuation including Istanbul, Athens, Valletta, Berlin, London, Rome, Cairo, Lisbon, Madeira, The Hague, Ljubljana, as well as the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.  Department of Foreign Affairs’ personnel met evacuees as they arrived at their destinations and helped with arrangements for accommodation and onward travel.  A number of families were returned to Ireland on the Government jet.

Irish citizens can register directly with local Irish Embassies or they can do so online through the Department of Foreign Affairs website.