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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

303 Egyptians fleeing Libya arrive in Cairo

The flight is the second to evacuate Egyptians since the Egyptian army hit IS targets after the militant group beheaded 21 Egyptians

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Feb 2015
Egyptians cross from Libya to Egypt through the Salloum land port gate on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 (Photo: AP)
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An Egypt Air flight carrying 303 Egyptians returning from Libya arrived in Cairo on Monday, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported, the second flight since an evacuation of Egyptians started last week.

The fleeing Egyptians had to cross the Libyan-Tunisian border to depart for Egypt from Tunisia's Djerba International Airport.

They passed by a security check at Cairo International Airport in order to make sure no one infiltrated them and that none fled court verdicts.

The evacuation came following Libyan-coordinated Egyptian airstrikes that hit 13 Islamic State militant group targets on 16 February in retaliation for the beheading of 21 Egyptians in Libya who were killed in a video released by the IS group a day before.

Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamel had said there would be four flights ready to evacuate up to 2,000 Egyptians.

The first flight carried 192 Egyptians to Cairo on Friday.

The evacuation planes landed in Tunisia due to the difficulty of landing in unstable Libya where militias are fighting.

Meanwhile thousands of Egyptians are returning from Libya through the Western Salloum border crossing. 

Nearly 170,000 Egyptians returned from Libya in 2011, and in 2014 72,745 Egyptians returned, minister of manpower Nahed El-Ashry said in a statement Thursday.

Since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, rival militias have been fighting against each other.

The country now has two parliaments, but the international community recognises the "Libyan House of Representatives" elected in June after retired General Khalifa Haftar announced in March the dissolution of the Tripoli parliament supported by Islamists.

For decades, Libya has been a major destination for Egyptian migrant workers due to its once booming oil economy, geographical proximity and open borders.

No official number exists for Egyptian workers in Libya because large numbers have travelled illegally to the oil-rich North African country, according to El-Ashry, who estimated the number stands between 800,000 and 900,000.

The number reaches 1.5 million Egyptian workers according to other unofficial estimates.

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