A week after violence erupted in Libya, up to 500 Britons are still stranded due to the government's slow response to evacuation
The coalition government has been criticised heavily for its slow response to the evacuation of scores of Britons left in war-torn Libya.
Up to 500 British citizens are thought to still be stranded in Libya despite the late efforts to step up evacuation by planes and boats, according to the Foreign Office.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is ‘incredibly sorry’ for the way the government has handled the crisis.
‘There are going to be lessons to be learned from this and we will make absolutely sure that we learn them for the future,’ he said. ‘Right now, the priority has got to be getting those British nationals home.’
Late Thursday evening, around 350 Britons were finally brought safely home to the UK.
Some evacuees said they had been waiting for nearly a week for help to arrive, while they watched on as Turks, Italians, Greeks and even Chinese citizens were all rescued.
People arriving back into Gatwick have described the Foreign Office’s response as disastrous and there have been reports of mass hysteria with 10,000 people clambering to leave the country.
‘I lost all my luggage,’ said Ewan Black, an IT support worker for an oil company. ‘It’s literally bodies climbing over bodies to get to the door. I was on my knees at one stage and so was my colleague and it was actually one of the Libyan police who grabbed my arm when I showed him my passport and pulled me in.’
Thousands of British citizens were left in freezing temperatures, wet and starving while they waited for over 14 hours for a plane to take them home.
Some resorted to escaping the chaotic country whatever way they could – boarding ships to Turkey or jumping on a stranded US ferry in Tripoli harbour.
After a slow initial response to the emergency due to technical mistakes or system failurewith commercial aircrafts, the government has now instructed the special forces to be on stand-by to help the remaining people stuck in Libya.
Government chartered planes are reportedly costing £80,000 each in order to pay airport fees in Libya to secure the remaining Britons evacuation.