Six Egyptian citizens held in western Libya released: Foreign ministry

Ahram Online , Saturday 18 Feb 2023

Six Egyptian citizens, who were held at an irregular migrants detention centre in western Libya, have been released as per information received from the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli, Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zeid announced on Saturday.

A file photo of Egypt s Foreign Ministry in Cairo (Photo : Al-Ahram)


On Friday evening, Abu Zeid tweeted that the foreign ministry is following the safe return of the six Egyptians to their homeland.

Earlier on Friday, the ministry said in an official statement that the six Egyptians were not being held by the Libyan authorities, without specifying who was holding them.

It added that the six individuals had travelled to Libya on visas which permitted them to stay only in the east of the country.

The ministry also said that it had intervened in 2021 to repatriate the same six individuals after they faced perils in Libya.

Release efforts

In a statement on Thursday, the foreign ministry said that the Egyptian authorities had been exerting the utmost efforts to secure their release, including contacting Libyan authorities through the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli.

The statement added that the consular sector at the ministry had received families of the detained nationals more than once over the past few days to follow up on their condition.

The ministry appealed to all citizens seeking to travel to Libya not to violate travel instructions and to fully adhere to the designated areas of residence and movement in order to ensure their safety.

MP raises alarm

The ministry's statement was released shortly after Egyptian MP Mostafa Bakry said in a briefing request filed with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that six Egyptian  workers had been kidnapped and held for ransom in Libya for over a week.

In a tweet on Thursday, Bakry said the six citizens entered Libya with visas but were abducted while travelling by land to Sabratha in the west of the country in search of jobs

The six individuals, who are Christians, hail from Al-Harja Qibli village in Sohag, Upper Egypt, according to Bakry.

A risky decade

On several occasions in the last decade, the Egyptian authorities have intervened to free Egyptian citizens who were kidnapped in Libya amid  turbulent political and security conditions in different parts of the country in the aftermath of the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

Prior to 2011, an estimated three million Egyptians worked in Libya but these numbers fell in the past several years amid conflict in the country.

In April 2021, Egypt formed a ministerial committee to examine frameworks for the safe return of Egyptian labour to Libya.

And in December 2021, Egypt also launched an electronic link system to regulate Egyptian labour's entry into Libya in a step aimed to prevent human trafficking and irregular migration to Egypt’s western neighbour.

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