Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Libyan Visa Update (15): Tourist Visa To Libya Has Been Reinstated:



Tourist Visa:

The Ministry of Tourism has finally decided to start issuing tourist visas to foreign nationals wishing to visit Libya. The decision was taken in a meeting between the minister of tourism and Tripoli's immigration officials on the 26th of December 2013 [1]. Officials at the ministry of tourism have confirmed the news to us on early January 2014. The good news was also confirmed by the ministry's media coordinator to Libya Herald [2]. In a separate development Solidarity Press has reported [3] an agreement between the Libyan and Tunisian ministries of tourism to begin the activation of tourism in Libya and Tunisia. The representative of the Tunisian Office of Tourism in Tripoli, Mr. Ezeddin Alqarami, was reported to have said that the agreement relates to the preparations made for the year 2014, which will be a "promising year" for both countries [3]. The New Visa Procedure: the new regulations require a scanned copy of your passport to be sent to your chosen operator or visa provider and a list of the sites to be visited (the route). The visa approval will be available within 48 hours of the application being presented (if all goes well). The approval can be used to obtain the visa on arrival, as before, without the need to visit the embassy.

Checkpoints:

Attacks on checkpoints and the setting up of fake checkpoints continue to take place in Libya, with the addition of Libya's first suicide bomber striking at a checkpoint in Bersis, near Benghazi, killing 13 people [4]; thereby officially putting freed Libya on par with liberated Afghanistan and democratised Iraq. Travel at night is not recommended, and camping in deserted places remains a risky adventure in today's Libya. The Libyan government has authorised Libya Shield Forces to set up a number of checkpoints across the capital Tripoli in an attempt to clamp down on the terror activities carried out by the mystery terrorists in black vehicles (without number plates and with tinted glass) [5]. The announcement came after the spat of violence that plighted the capital Tripoli in recent months.

Land Borders:

Emsaad land border continues to be unpredictable, with the usual closures and occasional trouble. Ras Ejdir and Wazen appear to enjoy a relative stability in recent months, with the occasional incident that often results in closing the border for a few days. If you do have an entry visa to Libya then you would be allowed to enter and exit via these land borders. Remember, if you are allowed in via Ras Ejdir, for example, then you should be able to exit at the other end (Emsaad). According to the spokesman of the Libyan air force in the eastern region only 50% or 60% of Libyan borders are covered by the air force, leaving nearly half of Libya's borders totally unprotected. While according to an Algerian source quoted by LANA [8] the border between Libya and Algeria is under the control of extreme Salafist militias, and that 14 armed militias or units which do not belong to the central authority in Tripoli are in charge of the border area. The situation by the southern borders has not changed either. Despite the government's declaration of Fezzan a "military zone", criminal activity and violence continue to affect the area. According to a recent report by Libya Herald, illegal immigrants are crossing the border at Madama (near Tumu – the Libyan official border crossing station) without being asked for any documents, and that according to the head of Murzuk's military security, Colonel Barca, around "600 illegal immigrants cross the border every day" [9]. The Libya Herald report goes on to speak of an al-Qaeda terrorist camp in Isseyne, at the border between Ghat and Algeria, and that when Hassan Massafer ("a member of Katiba 206 in Obari") informed the authorities in Tripoli, he was told by the authorities: "‘Don’t do anything. You don’t see it. You don’t look at it!’" [9].

Safety:

During Gaddafi's dictatorial grip on power Libya was among the safest destinations in the world. Two years ago, most Libyans were assured that Libya will never become like democratised Iraq, where nearly 1.4 million Iraqis died after the hanging of Saddam in the Big Feast, but today it is almost impossible to have a single day without a terrorist act shocking the Libyans already disoriented by the devastating war.

It took Libya's chief of the Special Forces two years, after the UN's authorised bombing campaign came to a sudden end, to say there was a "conspiracy" to plunge Libya into civil war; with Libya itself becoming the safe haven for radical groups and the centre for world terrorists, complete with Tesco - the largest arms black supermarket in the world. 

Therefore all visitors are warned that the security situation in Libya is worse than ever before. The reason for this is that the assassinations that were targeting Libyans in the past have now began to affect foreign visitors too. The dead bodies of one British engineer and a New Zealand woman were found by the beach in Sabratha in December 2013. They were shot dead.

For the first time in Libya's history big hotels have become a terrorist target. All the hotels attacked so far are 5-star hotels. The Radisson Blu Hotel was hit a number of times on the 7th of  November 2013 after heavy armed clashes erupted nearby. There were no casualties reported, but the guests were relocated to the basement [6]. The clashes have also affected the 5-star Waddan Hotel, the Turkish and the Italian embassies, the ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the ministry of Planning. One diplomatic source, who was staying at the Waddan Hotel at the time, spoke of an armed group entering the Waddan Hotel, terrorising guests "including senior diplomatic staff", and confiscating "possessions and money" at gunpoint [7]. On the 23rd of July 2013  a mortar narrowly missed the 5-star Corinthia Hotel, when a missile was launched from a vehicle that was parked in a car park behind the hotel.

To read the full visa update 15 please visit http://www.temehu.com/news-Libya.htm

References:
  1. https://www.facebook.com/LIBYANTOURISM.LY
  2. libyaherald.com/2014/01/04/libya-to-start-issuing-tourist-visas/
  3. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/43988-ليبيا_و_تونس_تبحثان_آفاق_تعاون_واعد_في_القطاع_السياحي/
  4. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/38839/تفجير_انتحاري_بنقطة_تفتيش_برسس_شرق_بنغازي
  5. presssolidarity.net/news/ONENEWS/13936-قوات_درع_ليبيا_تقيم_نقاط_تفتيش_في_مناطق_متفرقة_من_العاصمة/
  6. libyaherald.com/2013/11/07/fighting-continues-in-tripoli-hotel-hit-guests-evacuated-to-basement/
  7. libyaherald.com/2013/11/14/damaged-embassies-upset-by-last-weeks-clashes/
  8. lana-news.ly/ara/news/view/34111/صحف_جزائرية_الجيش_الجزائري_يأمر_وحداته_على_الحدود_مع_ليبيا_بعدم_التنسيق_الأمني_مع_كل_وحدة_عسكرية_غير_نظامية_موجودة_على_الحدود_الجزائر
  9. libyaherald.com/2013/09/20/souther-borders-wide-open/




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