Help, my Sunderland shirt’s stuck in Libya!

Ian Smith up Mt Cameroon

Ian Smith up Mt Cameroon

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A WEARSIDE teacher left stranded overseas by the Libyan conflict has told how he fears rebels have ransacked his hotel room – and stolen his beloved Sunderland shirt.

Ian Smith has been living in Libya for two years, teaching English to people working in the oil business.

Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures to supporters as he speaks in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, March 2, 2011. Gadhafi vowed "We will fight until the last man and woman" and lashed out against Europe and the United States for their pressure on him to step down, warning that thousands of Libyans will die if U.S. and NATO forces intervene in the conflict. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi gestures to supporters as he speaks in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, March 2, 2011. Gadhafi vowed "We will fight until the last man and woman" and lashed out against Europe and the United States for their pressure on him to step down, warning that thousands of Libyans will die if U.S. and NATO forces intervene in the conflict. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

But the 44-year-old, from Penshaw, left for Cameroon on holiday just days before trouble flared.

With only a return ticket to Tripoli, he is now stuck in the African country, with all of his belongings still in Libya.

Ian, who is studying for his masters degree at Sunderland University, said he was growing increasingly worried about his friends who are trapped in the war zone.

“I should have returned to work in Ras Lanuf on March 5, but instead I have had to extend my visa here in Cameroon,” he said.

“I have been unable to get any information out of Libya for about two weeks now.

“Emails to my boss and manager have gone unanswered.

“It is turning into a full-scale war by the looks of it.

“I don’t think the Western governments will stop now until Gaddafi is out of power, one way or another.

“What the country will be like when I get back I have no idea.”

Football fan Ian, who worked at Nissan for 15 years before leaving to teach, said he is staying in Yaounde, the Cameroon capital.

“I start work full-time in Yaounde on March 28, so I have been really lucky in the respect,” he said.

“The position also comes with a furnished apartment.

“My plan is to sit it out here until we return to Libya, although whether or not that actually happens is another matter.

“My seven colleagues are in different parts of the world waiting to see what develops before they start the job searching.

“I did receive reports that my hotel, which contains my belongings, was taken over by the rebels.

“So if anyone is seen on TV brandishing a gun and wearing a Sunderland top, it’s mine – the Sunderland top, not the gun.”