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Libya ferry on first passenger trip to Turkey in decades

A ship is pictured at the Libyan northwestern port city of Misrata on December 1, 2021. A maritime line connecting the Libyan city of Misrata to that of Aegean port city of Izmir in Turkey was inaugurated on Wednesday, marking the resumption of a link between these two countries after 40 years of interruption. AFP

A ferry set sail on Wednesday from the Libyan port of Misrata to Turkey’s coastal city of İzmir, 40 years after the last passenger vessel plied the route, Agence France-Presse reported.

Libya has not been serviced by any international ferries for 25 years.

Travel links with and within the country were severely disrupted by the 2011 revolt that overthrew longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and years of unrest which followed.

During Kadhafi’s rule, from 1969, the country was under sanctions and largely closed to tourists.

The revived crossing to Turkey is operated by Libyan company Kevalay. It should take 48 hours and the vessel is set to return on December 7.

“We have deals to launch other links, including with Egypt and Tunisia,” said Taha Hadid, an official at the port of Misrata, Libya’s third city.

Misrata, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Tripoli, is home to numerous Turkish businesses.

Air travel has also begun to return.

Airports were heavily damaged in Libya’s fighting and many air links were suspended, but some have resumed since an October 2020 ceasefire between the main rival camps.

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