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Thursday, 17 October 2019

About 12,000 Egyptians flee Libya from Salloum crossing after IS beheaded 20 Copts

In response to beheading of Egyptians at hands of IS militants, official says about 12,000 Egyptians returned through the Salloum border crossing

Marina Barsoum , Monday 23 Feb 2015
Salloum border crossing
Egyptians fleeing Libya through the Salloum border crossing (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Around 12,000 to 13,000 Egyptians have returned home after fleeing Libya through the Salloum border, said head of the security directorate in Egypt's western governorate of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border.

Major General Al-Anany Hamouda explained to Ahram Online on Monday that there are two types of expats; those who legally travelled to Libya and those who migrated to the neighbouring country through illegal means.

“We just disclose the identity of all expats returning and make sure that those who migrated illegally are not escaping a court ruling or do not belong to a terrorist group,” said Hamouda.

Egyptians have been fleeing neighbouring Libya ever since a video released last week showed the beheading of 20 Egyptian Christians and one of African origin by Islamic State militants.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government is facilitating air travel to deport Egyptians who wish to return from the border of Ras Jedir crossing between Libya and Tunisia, through the Tunisian Djerba International Airport. 

Hundreds of Egyptians have reportedly been airlifted as part of the evacuation plan announced earlier by Egypt’s civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal.

Kamel said earlier last week that Egypt's national carrier Egypt Air is ready to execute evacuation plans as soon as orders are received.

Egypt launched airstrikes against Islamic State militant group targets in Libya's eastern city of Derna early on Monday last week, hours after the group released the video of the beheadings.

In his speech addressed to the nation, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed that the Egyptian army is not an aggressor and does not invade foreign territory but only responds to attacks against it - in reference to recent airstrikes it carried out against Islamic State group targets in Libya hours after the video was released.

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

Since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Ghaddafi, rival militias have been fighting a weak central government across the country.

Instability in Libya prompted many Egyptian workers to return to Egypt, though many others have remained.

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