Egyptians Reluctant to Leave Libya

By Ahmad Mustafa, translated for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Libya Business News.

The current economic crisis in Egypt has pushed thousands of simple and marginalized people to leave their country in search of the unknown in Libya, while ignoring the warnings of authorities. There are no official estimates for the numbers of Egyptians who left for Libya, as most of them infiltrated across the border with the help of mediators on both sides.

The last couple of months witnessed a series of incidents ranging from truck detainments, the abduction of several members of the Egyptian Embassy and the abduction of Christians and the murder of others. Militias also targeted Egyptians in Libya after the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. This gave the impression that the [Libyan] militias wanted to put the new regime in Egypt in an awkward position.

The situation of Egyptians in Libya has always depended on warm relations between past leaders Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi. In addition, after the February 17 Revolution, which toppled the Gadhafi regime, Egyptians hoped that their situation would improve [in Libya] and that safer opportunities to make ends meet would open up. But, their dreams [quickly] turned into nightmares with the outbreak of the civil war in Libya.

With the escalation of the armed conflict in Libya, Cairo attempted to evacuate the Egyptians who were stuck at the borders with Tunisia and Algeria. However, only about 20,000 Egyptians were able to return to Egypt, according to official estimates. This is a relatively low number compared with the [number of] Egyptians in Libya, who exceed 2 million.

To tackle this, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry declared a travel ban to Libya a month ago. ... Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Ati confirmed that the warning issued by his ministry regarding the travel ban to Libya still holds. He reiterated his warnings to Egyptians working in Libya against being present in the conflict’s hotspots.

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