Norwegian fertilizer company Yara shut down production and sent staff from its Marsa al Brega factory out of Libya this week, after a local militia group laid siege to the site. Yara said no one was hurt, but the decision was taken to send workers home for safety reasons.
The militia group demanded payment for their efforts in the fight to overthrow former dictator Muammar Gadaffi, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Lifeco, the company which owns the factory, is part owned by Yara and Libyan investors. The group blocked the factory entrance last Monday, stopping night shift staff from going to work. No one was threatened or injured, and none of the 23 workers involved were Norwegians.
“For us priority number one is always to take care of our employees,” said Yara communications chief Esben Tuman. “That always goes ahead of material security. When this situation happened we chose to send our people home as a precaution, but that happened over many days, so there was no rushed evacuation.”
Tuman said Yara would wait to see how negotiations unfolded between the militia and the government. He would not speculate on a time frame, but expected a solution would soon be found so staff could return to work. Yara is partnered with security firm Control Risks, which specializes in politically unstable areas.