Cairo continues efforts to bring back Egyptians fleeing Libya

Ahram Online, Saturday 2 Aug 2014

Two Egyptians were shot dead at the Tunisia-Libya border on Friday amid clashes

The Egyptian government will renew its efforts to help Egyptians fleeing Libya to get home, according to the minister of civil aviation.

Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal told Al-Ahram Arabic that the number of Egyptians being transported home on government-organised planes leaving Tunisia’s Djerba airport should reach 1,800 passengers a day, although this number could be increased if necessary.

On Friday Tunisia closed its border with Libya after thousands of Egyptians and other foreign nationals tried to break through the border fence, AFP reported. Thousands of Egyptians fleeing violence in Libya have been stranded at the Tunisian border, unable to cross because they lack visas, have staged several protests in an attempt to break through. In one such protest on Thursday, two Egyptians were reportedly shot dead.

The security situation in Libya has worsened notable in the last few weeks as rival militias struggle for control. A battle for control over the capital’s international airport killed dozens and injured hundreds.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 330,000 to 1.5 million Egyptians worked in Libya up until the ongoing unrest that began following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Gaddafi in 2011. The number of Egyptian expats has decreased since, although it is not clear how many Egyptians remain in the country.

So far, at least 639 passengers have been transported to Egypt from Tunisia in two separate planes, landing in Cairo on Thursday and Friday.  

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