A total of 449 Thai workers of a construction firm hired to build an airport near Libyan capital of Tripoli arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 5.45 a.m. aboard a chartered flight with smiles on their faces as they returned home safely from the riot-plagued country. Their employer had flown them from Libya to Malta and they then switched to the chartered flight for Bangkok.
Sumet Mahosot, deputy director-general of the Employment Department, who welcomed the evacuees at Suvarnabhumi Airport, told journalists that nearly 20,000 Thai workers still stranded in Libya and the Labour and the Foreign Affairs ministries would send a large ship to bring home about 4,000 of them on Monday.
The immediate problem facing the stranded Thai workers is that they could not obtain a visa to leave Libya, said Mr Sumet, adding that the workers have been asked to take care of themselves as first priority and Thai authorities would contact their employers in that country once peace was restored to send back workers to continue working there without paying additional expenses.
Initially, evacuated workers on Sunday each received Bt1,000 from job placement firms in Thailand to enable them to return to their hometowns, while companies in Libya paid another Bt500 to each of them. Workers under the fund for assistance of Thai workers overseas will be entitled to Bt15,000 each and the money is expected to be paid to them later this week.
Promma Sermkaew, one of the workers who arrived home, told journalists that Libyan soldiers brought tanks and escorted the workers to the airport to provide them protection, on fears that they would be robbed by angry protesters. He said he could hear the sound of gunfire all the time while he was stuck at his camp site.
Food was inadequate and workers could take only two meals a day, Mr Promma said, adding that he was worried about Thai workers still left behind.
Despite the ongoing bloody violence, Mr Promma said he would be willing to return to Libya and work there because he could not afford to support his family if he worked in Thailand.
Echoing his view was another returnee who identified himself as Chavalit Mahapun, who said he was glad to return home because the situation in Libya was horrific.
Mr Chavalit also said he would be willing to return to Libya and resume work there because the pay was better than Thailand. He urged Thai officials to speed up their assistance to Thai workers who were still stranded as many of them had no food to eat in Libya.
Report by : MCOT online news