Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

UAE helps free four foreign workers held captive in Libya

Asian civil engineers were seized by armed groups in west Libya last year

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. AFP
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. AFP

Three Filipinos and a South Korean have arrived safely in Abu Dhabi after being freed from captivity by armed groups in Libya through the UAE's intervention.

The four civilians were released thanks to "intensive efforts" made by the UAE in co-ordination with the Libyan National Army, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.

The UAE is now working on sending them to their home countries, the ministry said.

The four captives were working as civil engineers at a desalination plant in west Libya when they were seized by armed groups in the region last year, it said.

"Upon receiving requests from the Philippines and South Korea, the UAE communicated with the Libyan National Army to work on releasing them and to ensure their safety.

"As a result of a solid co-operation and co-ordination between the UAE and the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, search efforts had continued and resulted in finding them safely."

The ministry said the civilians were released after "intensive efforts to convey a message about the significance and importance of strengthening security and peace in Libya, and to contain criminal practices by armed groups who hold civilians captive without any consideration to international charters and norms".

"In this case, they did not consider that these civilians work for companies that are serving national interests of Libya and its people," the statement added.

"The release of these innocents means reuniting them with their families, and getting them back home after a long period of suffering."

South Korea thanked the UAE for its rescue effort and identified the freed citizen as a 62-year-old surnamed Joo. Presidential national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said he was freed after 315 days of captivity and that an initial medical check-up showed he had no major health problems. He was expected to return home on Saturday.

Armed groups seized control of various parts of Libya after the toppling of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country now has two rival administrations, one based in the east and the other in the capital, Tripoli. The Libyan National Army, which is aligned with the eastern administration, is fighting to drive out militias that have held the capital since the uprising.

Updated: May 17, 2019 11:41 AM

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