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Governments find ways to get their citizens out of Libya

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JEREMY HOBSON: As the violence continues in Libya, France’s President is calling for economic sanctions. And the the U.S. State Department is evacuating American citizens.

Peter Thomas is a British teacher who’s lived in Tripoli for the last two years. He managed to escape yesterday and he joins us now from Ankara, Turkey. Good morning.

PETER THOMAS: Good morning. How are you?

HOBSON: Great, so first tell us how you got out of Tripoli.

THOMAS: We got out on one of the scheduled Turkish Airlines flights. We took back roads to the airport because Gadhafi’s Republican Guard — they’re out of uniform and manning check points, and they’re not people you want to have long conversations with. The situation in the airport was a lot worse than we had expected. There were between 5,000 and 7,000 people outside the airports — didn’t have tickets, were just waiting and hoping to find a way out.

HOBSON: Peter, in each one of the countries that’s been in the spotlight for the last few weeks it seems like in the days leading up to whatever ends up happening the economy just stops functioning. Give us a sense of what was going on in the last few days. Was anything open?

THOMAS: A lot of the sorts of clothes shops — things like that — they all shut down very quickly. But food shops have remained open during the day time. Petrol stations, they are running out. I was at the airports with a Canadian gentleman who’s a Shell geologist. And he said that all the oil sites had been closing up operations, sealing off the well heads.

HOBSON: Finally just give of a sense of what people are thinking about the future of the country. Do they think that Gadhafi’s about to go?

THOMAS: In Tripoli, people are very unwilling to talk. The strangest experience for me — it’s amazing to go through a nine-hour day teaching maybe 50 students, and not one of them making a single reference to what was happening on the streets outside.

HOBSON: Peter Thomas who has just evacuated from Tripoli. He is joining us from Ankara, Turkey. Thank you so much for your time.

THOMAS: Thank you so much as well.

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