Korea denies 14 citizens further stay in Libya
Published : Mar 29, 2011 - 20:12
Updated : Mar 29, 2011 - 20:12
South Korea on Tuesday denied 14 citizens remaining in Libya further stay in the turmoil-laden nation, citing the lack of safety measures should the situation there worsen, the foreign ministry said.

The decision came at an inter-agency meeting that the government convened to determine whether to allow those in Libya to continue to stay there after the government placed a travel ban on the country earlier this month.

Currently, 64 South Koreans remain in Libya, including 12 officials at the country's embassy in Tripoli and their family members, after 39 people evacuated to nearby Malta and Tunisia on Monday. Most of the remainder are construction firm workers.

The 14 people denied stay in Libya are individuals who are not working for South Korean companies.

The officials reached the decision after reviewing safety measures that applicants turned in to seek permission to remain in Libya.

"It is understandable that it is difficult for individuals to come up with thorough safety measures, but we applied strict rules as this is a grave matter," an official said.

Those denied further stay should leave Libya as early as possible, the official said.

Violation of the country's travel ban carries up to one year in prison or 3 million won (US$2,700) in fines.

Earlier in the day, Second Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok urged South Korean firms operating in Libya to pull their last remaining workers out of country, saying one of the overland evacuation routes from the country could be blocked in the near future.

Overland evacuation to Tunisia has been one of the most used routes to flee the country.

"The evacuation route from Libya to Tunisia could be blocked in the near future," Min said at a meeting of officials convened to determine whether to continue to allow those in Libya to stay there after the government banned traveling to the country.

"The assessment of our embassy in Libya is that evacuation to Tunisia could be made impossible as anti-government forces keep moving westward," Min said at the meeting. "We hope the companies, which still have employees in Libya, will make a decision on evacuation."

Min also said that Libyan troops set up about 20 checkpoints near the border with Tunisia.

"Libyans have already been banned from moving to Tunisia and our citizens cannot evacuate to Libya either unless they are accompanied by embassy officials," he said.

(Yonhap News)