Libya unrest: British evacuation

Hundreds of Britons are among the thousands of foreigners who have fled Libyan unrest through ports, airports and overland.

Most British nationals left the country on government-chartered flights or by boat, but many of the UK oil workers who became stranded in the remote desert regions have been rescued by British special forces.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the majority of those Britons who wanted to leave Libya had now departed, but explained a number of oil and security workers would remain.

Here is a summary of how people have escaped through the country's key transit points:


The majority of fleeing Britons have departed Libya through Tripoli airport, but some have also left via the capital's harbour.

  • The first plane to arrive in the Libyan capital to take British nationals back to the UK was chartered by BP. It carried 78 back to Gatwick on the morning of Thursday 24 February. A second BP-chartered flight landed back in the UK later that day carrying 26 people, the last of the company's staff in the country.
  • A flight chartered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, carrying 181 adults and two children, including 113 Britons, landed at Gatwick later on Thursday after stopping off in Malta. It was followed by three more government flights to the UK on Friday. The first carried 130 people, including 53 Britons, to Gatwick, the second brought three Britons to Stansted and the third returned 34 British nationals to Gatwick.
  • An RAF C130 Hercules transport aircraft carried 51 British passengers, 13 other entitled passport holders and a dog, to Malta where they joined the first government charter flight to London.
  • A final rescue flight returned to Gatwick from Tripoli on Saturday, carrying 100 passengers, including 53 Britons, some of them consular staff.
  • A further 49 Britons departed on a US ferry from Tripoli harbour.


Libya's second city, the port of Benghazi, has been used by vessels helping foreigners escape to Mediterranean destinations.

  • Navy frigate HMS Cumberland picked up 207 people, including 70 British nationals, from Benghazi on Thursday and arrived in Malta overnight on Friday. They endured a 35-hour journey from the Libyan port on rough seas. Passengers then took flights back to the UK.
  • HMS Cumberland returned to Benghazi and took another 200 civilians, including 50 Britons, back to Malta. Those on board were expected to catch flights back to the UK on Monday or Tuesday.
  • HMS York remains in the region and is "ready to assist as required", the British government has said.

Desert oil fields

Many Britons were stranded in remote desert regions, such as the major oil-producing Sirte basin, and the British military launched two operations to help them escape.

  • About 150 oil workers were airlifted to Malta after a British military mission on Saturday. Two RAF Hercules transport aircraft were flown to a desert strip, south of Benghazi, which had been secured with the help of local militia.
  • British special forces carried out a second operation on Sunday, with three RAF Hercules aircraft rescuing a further 150 people. One plane suffered minor damage after coming under small-arms fire.
  • A flight carrying some of those rescued workers, 79 of whom are British, arrived at Gatwick on Sunday, followed by a second, carrying 25 Britons, early on Monday morning.