The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published new information regarding the Egyptians thought to be lost in the Libyan desert. The ministry believes that at least 72 Egyptians entered Libya illegally in two separate groups.
The ministry announced that the two men who were found dead on Monday evening by the Libyan authorities are Badr Fazza Attia Hassan and Mohamed Mostafa Saeed Mohamed. The authorities confirmed that the pair died of thirst. Hassan’s cousin Bashar Abdel Samie Attia Hassan was found alive and was able to identify the bodies.
A group of Libyan hunters found nine Egyptians in the desert on Wednesday, according to the ministry, and are now being held in an illegal immigration centre in Libya. They are said to be part of a group of 60 people, which included Hassan and the two deceased, from the governorates of Minya, Alexandria and Kafr Al-Sheikh, having paid money to cross the border through a barbed wire fence at the Musaid-El Salloum and crossing on 16 October, according to the ministry.
Twelve other Egyptians are also thought to have entered the country illegally, three of which have been transferred to a hospital in Tobruk, a Libyan town 138km from the Egypt-Libya border. One of the injuries is believed to have been caused by a landmine explosion, resulting in the amputation of the victim’s right leg. The nine remaining members of this group are in the city of Ajdabiya.
The ministry’s statement highlighted that the Libyan authorities have been conducting helicopter searches over a 450 sq km area including water sourcesand areas known to local shepherds. Contact has also been made with the local people living in the countryside areas as well as the nomadic people of the desert.
The ministry stressed that it is “following developments around the clock in coordination with the relevant Egyptian and Libyan authorities.”
Earlier in October dozens of Egyptian drivers were abducted near Ajdabiya, and were later freed following a joint effort by the Libyan and Egyptian authorities. A Libyan militia chief claimed to have abducted the drivers.
Egyptians have continued to illegally cross into Libya despite warnings from both governments advising them to obtain the correct documentation before travelling.
In April, a foreign ministry official said over 4,000 Egyptians entered Libya illegally this year. Egyptian fishermen also violate Libya’s waters for fishing purposes, due to the shortage of fish in Egyptian waters. In March, over 250 Egyptians were deported by Libyan authorities in a crackdown on illegal migrants.
Also in April, Egypt and Libya signed a military cooperation agreement, which included steps to tackle border security issues.