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Families of Georgian sailors detained in Libya ask for help

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, February 24
The families of 6 Georgian sailors detained in troubled Libya have asked the Georgian authorities for help. According to Manana Ambalia, whose husband Iveri Kurashvili is a captain of the Georgian-flagged ship and son Giorgi who is also a member of the crew, the sailors contacted their families several days ago.

“Giorgi told me that they are not allowed to enter the town of Misurata, the port is closed. Everything is cut off- internet, phone lines,” Ambalia said, adding that the only source of information for the relatives of the Georgian sailors is TV. “We get information through Euronews. We do not know what will happen,” she noted, adding that the sailors claim they have very poor living conditions. “They are not being paid their salaries and they earn their living by fishing,” Ambalia noted.

Georgian-flagged ship Vasilios N, carrying construction materials, left from one of the Turkish ports for Libya ten months ago. The owner of the cargo was waiting for the ship in Libya’s port of Misurata, 210 kilometes from the capital Tripoli. However the ship got caught up in a strong storm in Greek waters and about 20 percent of the cargo was soaked. The owner of the cargo refused to accept the soaked materials. According to the family members of the Georgian sailors, the dispute between the owner of the ship and the owner of the cargo is in progress, while the ship and its crew is being kept in detention in Libya.

Sailors’ Professional Unions have said that the Georgian crew detained in Libya is safe. According to the head of the Union, Anatoly Chijavadze, the sailors’ lives are not in danger as the unrests are taking place in the towns. He has said that the latest news from the ship is not available due to an inability to contact them. Chijavadze noted the international professional union is dealing with the issue of the Georgian sailors and the decision will be taken “in the near future.” “With the request of the marine administration, we sent a letter to the international professional union. We are now waiting for their response. International professional union inspector, as well as an advocate is working on the issue,” he stated.

Meanwhile the Georgian Foreign Ministry said that 4 Georgian citizens on a working mission in Libya will be transported to Georgia as soon as flights are allowed from the country. The Foreign Ministry said the Georgian citizens, including two women, are now in Tripoli living in one of the hotels guarded by military units. The Ministry said the Georgian citizens spent Tuesday night at the airport waiting for the air space to be reopened, however this was in vain. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has called on the Georgian citizens to refrain from traveling to states where the situation is “unstable.”

Due to ongoing large-scale unrest in Libya, tens of foreign states have started evacuating its citizens from the country. To those who cannot be evacuated from Libya yet, the authorities recommend to stay inside their houses and keep in touch with their embassies until the situation gets back to normal.