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Project Expats Leaving Libya As Political Unrest Spreads

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With unrest now growing deadly, Libya is the latest Middle East nation from which construction project expatriates are fleeing. Brazilian contracting giant Odebrecht began a mandatory evacuation of more than 5,000 expatriate workers on Feb. 21. About 187 firm employees and family members are among 600 nationals the Brazilian government was scrambling to airlift out as violence spread in the wake of the government’s crackdown. Contractor officials said on Feb. 22 the firm was securing charter planes to airlift workers from Tripoli and Benghazi. Odebrecht is working on the $1.3-billion expansion of the Libya International Airport and is building Tripoli’s $342-million Third Ring Road. U.S. firms have done likewise, although one executive says evacuation is not based on a U.S. State Dept. mandate. AECOM, Los Angeles, which also has a significant role managing housing and infrastructure expansion in Libya, says it is withdrawing all expats and family members, says a spokesman. “We are continuing to monitor the situation extremely closely,” he says. M. Stevenson Smith, CEO of Wilbur Smith Associates, Columbia, S.C., says five employees were airlifted to Paris from Tripoli.

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