Egypt arrests around 200 illegal migrants near Libya

Ahram Online , Sunday 19 Oct 2014

Migrants were trying to enter Libya through the Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrouh, a gateway to the neighbouring African country

Egypt's army and border guards on Sunday arrested 196 illegal migrants attempting to infiltrate Libya through its borders, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

The arrestees, who include a Palestinian and two Sudanese, are also accused of being present in an off-limits military area. They were caught near the northern coastal city of Marsa Matrouh.

Investigations with military prosecutors are underway.

On Saturday, state news agency MENA reported that 104 persons, including four Sudanese nationals, were arrested while trying to illegally infiltrate Libya through desert pathways in Matrouh's city of Salloum.

Libya is a main destination for Egyptian migrants seeking job opportunities overseas, mostly due to geographical proximity and open border policies which, until 2006, had allowed Egyptians to enter and reside there with as little as a valid identification card.

But the Egyptian government has repeatedly and firmly warned against any travel to the North African country as extreme violence and deadly militia rivalries have worsened in recent months.

In August, thousands of Egyptians trying to flee the strife-torn country were airlifted home, leaving their belongings behind.

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 autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The number of Egyptian expats has sharply dwindled since.

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