A small number of Irish citizens have asked the Government for assistance in leaving war-torn Libya, RTÉ's This Week has learned.

The numbers of Irish citizens involved is understood to be "single digits" only, according to well-placed sources.

Irish consular officials in Dublin and Rome were liaising with their counterparts in Italian and UK foreign offices.

A number of countries were organising convoys to move expatriates to safety in Tunisia or elsewhere.

It is also understood that gaining access to fuel was becoming a critical issue for any expat groups trying to mobilise an exit.

The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to confirm the details of how many, if any, Irish citizens had asked for assistance to leave Libya.

It said it was making contact with all Irish citizens in the country and asking those who had not so far registered with the department to do so.

Around 150 Irish citizens are in Libya.

In a statement, the department said that Irish citizens remaining in Libya were "almost entirely long-term resident dual nationals who wish to remain in the country".

Since issuing a "do-not-travel" warning over a week ago, "almost all Irish ex-pat workers" had left the country, it said.

"We are working closely with our EU partners to ensure we get the latest information to share with our citizens in Libya, particularly relating to transport links."

There are reports this weekend that British expatriates in Libya who wish to exit will be assisted by the arrival of a Royal Navy ship off the coast of Tripoli, with members of the Royal Navy reportedly assigned to move people by launches to the vessel.

The United States evacuated civilians from Libya on 26 July in a major operation involving war planes and overhead drones.