Saturday, February 21, 2015

More Egyptians Flee Libya From Tunisian Borders, Minister Promises Jobs
Ahram Online
Friday 20 Feb 2015

189 Egyptians flee Libya from Tunisian Ras Jedir border crossing, while manpower minister promises returning expats with job opportunities in Egypt

About 189 Egyptians fleeing Libya flocked to entrances at the border crossing of Ras Jedircrossing between Libya and Tunisia early Friday, state news agency MENA reported.

Tunis Afrique Press (TAP) reported that the Egyptians will be deported by airplane, which will depart from Djerba International Airport in Tunisia.

Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamel said in a statement on Friday that the first Egyptian plane will travel from Egypt at 4 pm local time to transfer expats fleeing Libya and that the plane can carry up to 286 persons.

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

The aviation minister said that there will be four flights ready to evacuate up to 2000 Egyptians. He also said that they will be announcing the number of flights based on the number of Egyptians that arrive at the Ras Jedir crossing border.

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

Kamel said planes will land in Tunisia due to the current difficulties of landing in Libyan. He said four Tunisian airports will be used to airlift the fleeing Egyptians.

Meanwhile, minister of manpower Nahed Al-Ashry stressed in a statement late Thursday that the Egyptian government will provide job opportunities for expats coming back from Libya.

According to El-Ashry, no official number exists for Egyptian workers in Libya because large numbers travel illegally to the oil-rich North African country. However, she estimated the number stands between 800,000 and 900,000.

Other unofficial estimates bump up the number to 1.5 million Egyptian workers.

El-Ashry stated that the manpower ministry has been compiling a tally of the number of Egyptians in working Libya.

She said nearly 170,000 Egyptians returned from Libya in 2011, and that in 2014 72,745 Egyptians returned.

The International Organisation for Migration estimated that 330,000 to 1.5 million Egyptians worked in Libya until Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, sending between an estimated $19.5 and 33 million dollars back to Egypt in remittances.

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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