The Libyan military's actions against its own people are "deeply disturbing and unacceptable", Foreign Minister Murray McCully says, and has called for the Libyan government to refrain from the excessive use of force.
There are reports airstrikes have been launched against civilians in the capital Tripoli and Misurata, and people in the streets have been shot dead by machine gunfire by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime's forces.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has now elevated its travel advice to "extreme risk", meaning New Zealanders should not travel to Libya for any reason and New Zealanders in Libya should leave if it is safe to do so.
"New Zealanders wanting to leave Libya are doing so via commercial flights, and currently this is the most straightforward option. We understand Tripoli airport is open but chaotic," Mr McCully said.
There are currently 25 New Zealanders registered with MFAT as being in Libya.
"In addition to providing assistance to New Zealanders in Libya, we are in discussion with other governments regarding plans to evacuate foreign nationals should this be required," Mr McCully said.
He said the situation in Libya is of "grave concern".
"New Zealand supports the right of the Libyan people to peacefully protest and seek greater democratic freedoms. We are receiving reports of the military using heavy weapons and aerial bombardment against protesters. This is deeply disturbing and unacceptable. We call on the government to refrain immediately from the excessive use of force," Mr McCully said.
"The general situation in the Middle East and North Africa remains unstable. We are closely monitoring the situation and all travel advice is under constant review," Mr McCully says.
New Zealanders in, or travelling to, the Middle East or North Africa are encouraged to register their details on the Safetravel website www.safetravel.govt.nz.
- NZ Herald staff